CDCR investigates possible prison murder

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials are investigating the June 27, 2024, death of an inmate at High Desert State Prison as a homicide.

At 12:34 a.m., officers were conducting security rounds and approached a cell occupied by Hector Hernandez and Jonathan Gonzales. The officer observed Hernandez unresponsive in his cell, and immediately called for medical assistance and 911.

Hector Hernandez

Staff initiated lifesaving measures on Hernandez and transported him to the prison’s triage and treatment area where treatment continued. Medical staff from an outside medical facility pronounced Hernandez deceased at 1:02 a.m. No staff or additional incarcerated people were injured.

Jonathan Gonzales.

Gonzales was placed in restricted housing pending investigation. The cell has been locked to facilitate the investigation being conducted by HDSP Investigative Services Unit and the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office. The Office of the Inspector General was notified, and the Lassen County Coroner will determine Hernandez’s official cause of death.

Hernandez, 33, was received from Los Angeles County April 19, 2024, to serve life with the possibility of parole for two counts of first-degree murder and use of a firearm. He received 855 days of pre-sentence credit for time served while awaiting trial and was eligible for credit earning opportunities while incarcerated.

Gonzales, 36, was most recently received from Los Angeles County on Oct 27, 2016, to serve 28 years for extortion by means of force/threat second striker, street gang act in commission of violent felony, and use of a firearm; possession/manufacture of deadly weapon by prisoner, second striker; vehicle theft, prior felony conviction of serious offense; and attempted second-degree robbery, use of firearm, and prevent/dissuade victim/witness.

HDSP, located in Lassen County, opened in 1995 and houses 2,507 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-custody inmates. The prison provides academic classes, vocational instruction, work assignments and rehabilitation programs and employs more than 1,200 people.