Inmate in Florence prison found dead

LANCE BENZEL Updated: December 30, 2008 at 12:00 am • Published: December 30, 2008

FBI agents spent Tuesday searching cells of a Florence prison and questioning inmates about the death of a prisoner who was found unresponsive Monday morning.

Prison officials didn't know whether Pablo Zuniga-Garcia, 33, was slain, said a spokesman at the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution.

"It's premature right now to say if it was an attack or a homicide until the FBI tells us what the deal is," the spokesman, Isidro Garcia, said.

Zuniga-Garcia, who had been serving time for illegal immigration, was pronounced dead at 8:28 a.m. Monday.

The 1,200-inmate prison was placed on lockdown - meaning inmates must remain in their cells - and federal agents are conducting interviews, searching bunks and processing evidence from Zuniga-Garcia's cell, which he shared with another inmate.

Garcia, the spokesman, said he wasn't told whether the inmate suffered obvious trauma.

The body was apparently discovered after other inmates were released from their cells for the day. Inmates attend classes and job training and do prison labor, such as food service.

Zuniga-Garcia was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for Southern California to a 54-month term for illegally entering the United States. He arrived at the prison in Florence in March of 2007 and was projected to be released in August 2010.

The medium-security prison is part of the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, which also includes a high-security prison, a minimum-security prison camp and Administrative Maximum Security Institution, commonly known as SuperMax.

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Contact the writer: 636-0366 or lance.benzel@gazette.com  

 

 

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