Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Wednesday, Aug. 3 @ 10:59 a.m. / Prison

Pelican Bay Officials Investigating Inmate Death as Homicide


Pelican Bay State Prison inmate Fernando TorresLopez (left) allegedly attacked fellow inmate, Uriel Otero, on Friday. Otero died of his injuries, according to CDCR. | Photos courtesy of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

From a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release Monday:

DEL NORTE COUNTY –California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officials are investigating the July 29 death of an incarcerated person at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) as a homicide.

On Friday, July 29, at approximately 5:33 p.m., officers and medical staff responded when incarcerated person Fernando TorresLopez allegedly attacked incarcerated person Uriel Otero in a housing unit dayroom. Otero was taken to the prison’s triage and treatment area for treatment of injuries he sustained from the attack; however, he was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.

TorresLopez, 23, was sentenced on Aug. 16, 2021, in Santa Clara County to serve a 19-year, eight-month sentence for attempted second-degree murder, carrying a firearm in public with a prior felony conviction, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon in the commission of a street gang act.

Otero, 22, was sentenced on July 8, 2021, in Monterey County to serve a 25 years for attempted second-degree murder with use of a firearm and inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a street gang act.

Officials have limited population movement on the yard to facilitate the investigation being conducted by PBSP’s Investigative Services Unit, the Del Norte County District Attorney’s Office and the Del Norte County Coroner. TorresLopez has been placed in segregated housing pending the investigation. The Office of the Inspector General was notified and the Del Norte County Coroner will determine Otero’s official cause of death.

No staff members or additional incarcerated people were injured as a result of this incident.

PBSP opened in 1989 and houses approximately 1,658 minimum-, medium-, and high-security custody incarcerated people. It is located in Crescent City, 13 miles from the Oregon-California border. PBSP offers academic classes, vocational programs, rehabilitative programs, medical services, mental health services, religious services, work assignments and self-help groups, and employs approximately 1,500 people.


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