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Pelican Bay Cellie Slayings

Felipe Cruz, more than seven years into a 17-to-life sentence for second degree murder out of L.A. County, was found unconscious in his Pelican Bay SHU cell on the morning of November 1, 1997. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Prison officials said that 26-year-old Cruz was strangled by his cellmate, 29-year-old James Ellrod.

It was the eighth such cellie-on-cellie slaying in Pelican Bay in the last 25 months. All five killings were by strangulation. But prison spokesman Lt. Domingo Uribe said the prison has no plans to re-examine its practice of double-celling prisoners in the Pelican Bay control unit where cellmates are confined (some say entombed) together 23 1/2 hours a day.

"All these inmates, when they double cell, it's voluntary," said Uribe. "They sign agreements to cell with each other."

Uribe said there is no evidence any of the slayings are related, although he told reporters that all of the victims and their accused killers were white. Uribe intimated that some of the killings may have been "gang related", saying that one of the victims was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, and one of the suspects was "an associate" of the AB.

Sacramento Bee

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