The incident happened back on 9th March 2019 when 31-year-old Jaime Osuna killed, decapitated and dissected 44-year-old Luis Romero with a makeshift knife two new reports have found.
However, when the guards at Corcoran State Prison did their rounds to check on the cells, they reported that Romero was still alive. The officials at the prison were only alerted to Romero’s death when it was noticed that Osuna was wearing a necklace of his cellmate’s body parts.
It is not known how the guards failed to notice the gruesome scene but a lawsuit from Romero’s family suggests that the cell bars were covered with a white sheet. The lawsuit is also attempting to learn why Romero was housed with Osuna, who aside from identifying as a Satanist also had a history of attacking other prisoners.
Osuna is serving a life sentence for the murder of Yvette Pena in 2011. He would later brag to reporters that he loved torturing people and had attempted to intimidate Pena’s family during his 2017 trial. After this, he spent time at the Kern County detention facility where he had stabbed and slashed the face of another inmate.
The inspector general’s reports into Romero’s death called the handling of the case “poor” adding: “In the OIG’s opinion, the special agent continually resisted the recommendations of the department attorney regarding conducting interviews and obtaining evidence.”
The report states that two officers and incorrectly reported that Romero was still alive during their check. Two other officers also failed to report they had each seen the first two officers “fail to properly conduct the counts.”
Justin Sterling, the attorney for Romero’s family said it was “disheartening” that Romero’s mother had to sue to get “basic questions answered about her son’s death.” He added that the guards were meant to frequently check the cells and that it would have taken hours for Asuna to carry out the crime.
Romero had already spent 27 years in prison for the second-degree murder of a woman in Compton but was reportedly nearing his parole eligibility. Asuna, who has many facial tattoos has since been transferred to the Salinas Valley State Prison as a psychiatric inpatient and has been diagnosed with unspecified schizophrenia spectrum, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. A judge has ruled that Asuna is not competent to stand trial for Romero’s death.
Speaking to Lad Bible a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said: “Due to the extraordinary nature and complexity of this case, the department committed to ensuring a thorough and complete investigation from the very beginning. We respectfully disagree with the OIG's assessment into this case, as based on our investigation and findings, all of the disciplinary actions, in this case, were served within mandated statutory timeframes."