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Authorities probe death of state prison inmate as a homicide

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. (AP) — Authorities are investigating as a homicide the death of a 42-year-old inmate at a state prison in Northern California.

About 12:30 p,m. Saturday, prison staff found Joshua E. Kirtley unresponsive in his cell at the Pelican Bay State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. He was pronounced about a half-hour later after attempts to revive him, the department said.

Jesse A Rippee, Kirtley’s cellmate, was in the recreation yard when Kirtley was found, the department said.

Rippee had injuries that included facial swelling, scratches and bruises, the department said.

Rippee was treated at the prison and then placed in segregated housing as the prison’s Investigative Services Unit probes the incident.

Kirtley had been at the prison since July 28, 2004. He was serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder, the department said.

Rippee has been at the prison since Sept. 24, 2015, sentenced to 10 years for first-degree burglary, the department said. While in prison, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in 2017 for assault by a prisoner with a deadly weapon or force likely to cause great bodily injury, the department added.

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