2 inmates suspected of murder of another incarcerated man in California prison

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The California Department of Corrections Rehabilitation is investigating after an incarcerated man was allegedly murdered at Kern Valley State Prison.

Officials say 30-year-old Raul E. Mendoza, of Los Angeles County, was violently attacked in jail on May 13 — his fellow inmates, Andrew L. Espinoza, 29, and Frank Vasquez, 44, allegedly used two manufactured weapons to assault Mendoza.

The victim suffered several puncture wounds as a result of the attack, and emergency responders transported Mendoza to a nearby medical facility. He died from his injuries three days later.

Both suspects have been placed in restricted housing pending the investigation as prison officials await the official cause of Mendoza’s death from the coroner.

Officials say 30-year-old Raul Mendoza was allegedly attacked by two inmates on May 13 in Kern Valley State Prison. The victim succumbed to his injuries on May 15, 2024. (CDCR)Authorities say 44-year-old Frank Vasquez was one of two Kern Valley State Prison inmates responsible for the attack on Raul Mendoza that led to his death. Mendoza passed away from his injuries on May 16, 2024. (CDCR)Authorities say 29-year-old Andrew Espinoza is responsible for the death of Kern Valley State Prison inmate Raul Mendoza, who succumbed to his injuries on May 16, 2024. (CDCR)

Mendoza had a lengthy prison record. He was originally sent to Kern Valley Prison on June 15, 2015, after being sentenced to two years and eight months for carrying a loaded firearm in public while active in a gang, a second-strike offense.

The 30-year-old was then sentenced to 11 years for voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for use of a firearm in L.A. County on Nov. 3, 2016.

Espinosa has been in the state prison since February of last year. The 29-year-old was sentenced to seven years and four months for carjacking and evading or attempting to evade a peace officer while driving recklessly in L.A. County.

Vasquez has been at the facility since Dec. 1, 2015, when he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery. He also received enhancements for intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury or death.

The motive for the alleged attack is still under investigation.

More than 150 inmates died in California prisons last year, according to nonprofit news organization Cal Matters.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.