Report Finds Convicted Killer Decapitated Cellmate, Guards Lied to Cover Up Negligence
A new report says guards at a California prison falsified reports after a self-described Satanist at Corcoran State Prison dismembered his cellmate in a 2019 killing.
A report from the Office of the Inspector General found that even after Jaime Osuna, 31, had carved up cellmate, Luis Romero, 44, guards reported both men were alive, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The reports do not explain why the killing was not discovered. A lawsuit filed by Romero’s family claims that a sheet was hung to obscure what took place within the cell as Romero was killed.
The March 9, 2019, killing was hardly subtle.
Osuna used a razor-type blade attached to a handle to cut out one of Romero’s eyes, chop off a finger and slice out part of a lung after removing parts of some ribs.
Osuna eventually cut off Romero’s head, and when he was done posed the body and sliced gashes into Romero’s face to resemble an extended smile.
Osuna was later found with a necklace made from Romero’s body parts around his neck.
According to the inspector general, two officers falsely reported to have seen that Romero was alive. Two other officers did not report that they had seen the first two officers fail to perform their job, according to the report.
The report said that California’s Department of Corrections internal probe did not interview all possible witnesses, allowing an officer to lie during the process.
The inspector general reports also objected to the punishments meted out to the guards in question. One, who was supposed to be fired, ended up with just a suspension, A second who was supposed to take a three-year salary cut, had that reduced to two years.
“The department’s handling of the case was poor,” the report said. “In the OIG’s opinion, the special agent continually resisted the recommendations of the department attorney regarding conducting interviews and obtaining evidence.”
The Department of Corrections said it conducted a “thorough and complete investigation from the very beginning.”
But the attorney for Romero’s family, Justin Sterling, said the report pierces the department’s “veil of secrecy.”
“The idea that my client had to sue in order to get basic questions answered about her son’s death is disheartening,” Sterling said.
The guards were meant to check the cell every so often, Sterling said.
Noting that the crime took hours to commit, he said Romero would be alive if the guards had done their duty.
Romero had spent 27 years in prison on a second-degree murder conviction.
Osuna was serving a life sentence for a 2011 crime in which he killed and tortured a 37-year-old woman.
Osuna has since been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison’s psychiatric inpatient program.
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