Prison investigates inmate death as a homicide

California Correctional Center officials are investigating the death of inmate Richard Leyva, 37, as a homicide.

Just before 10:30 a.m. today, Tuesday,  Jan. 7, officers responded when inmates Luiz Ortega and Vincent Martinez allegedly attacked Leyva on the yard at Facility C, a Level III general population yard. The two ignored officers’ verbal orders to stop, and staff used pepper spray and two pepper-spray blast grenades to stop their attack, according to a statement from CCC.

Leyva suffered multiple stab wounds. Medical staff immediately initiated life-saving measures. Leyva was being transported by ambulance and was to be airlifted to a hospital in the community when he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced deceased at 11:06 a.m. by paramedics, according to the statement.

Leyva was admitted from Monterey County on Sept. 26, 2011, to serve a 14-year sentence for assault with a firearm. He was also convicted in Lassen County on Oct. 17, 2019, and given an eight-year sentence for assault by a prisoner with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury, an in-prison offense.

Two inmate-manufactured weapons were recovered. CCC’s Investigative Services Unit is investigating this incident and the Office of the Inspector General was notified.

The suspects, Luiz Ortega and Vincent Martinez, were rehoused in the Administrative Segregation Unit.

Ortega, 36, was admitted from Stanislaus County on March 9, 2018, with a life-with-parole sentence for second-degree murder.

Martinez, 37, was admitted from Kings County on Sept. 19, 2014, to serve a 22-year, four-month sentence for attempted second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance for sale, making criminal threats to cause great bodily injury or death, and an enhancement for committing a street gang act in commission of a serious felony.

CCC, originally built in 1963, houses minimum- and medium-security inmates and manages 18 conservation camps. In 1983, the minimum-support facility was constructed and in 1988, CCC’s Level III facilities were brought on line. CCC provides several vocational academic, self-help, volunteer, and other rehabilitative programs. It houses nearly 3,800 inmates and employs nearly 1,100 people.