Investigators from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are investigating a possible homicide last week at Susanville’s High Desert State Prison.
According to a press release from CDCR, at 10:16 a.m. Friday, Oct. 14, staff observed two inmates — William Lutts and Timothy Smith — attacking inmate Terence Coleman. Staff quickly responded and contained the incident within minutes, however, Coleman was pronounced deceased at 10:38 a.m. by institution medical staff.
Prison officials have limited population movement on the yard in order to facilitate the investigation. The Office of the Inspector General was notified and the Lassen County Coroner will determine Coleman’s official cause of death. No staff members or additional inmates were injured.
Coleman, 51, was admitted from Yolo County on Jan. 16, 1997, to serve life with the possibility of parole for one count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of second-degree robbery and one count of mayhem. He was also convicted of battery with serious injury, which was stayed. While incarcerated, Coleman was also sentenced to serve an additional 12 years for one count of voluntary manslaughter. He served prior terms in 1990 for first-degree burglary, and again in 1994 for first-degree burglary. He was also sentenced to serve two years for assault with a firearm and discharge of a firearm with gross negligence to be served concurrently.
Lutts, 39, sustained serious injuries during the incident and was transported to an outside hospital for further evaluation. Lutts was admitted from Tuolumne County on May 7, 2004, to serve 18 years for one count of assault with a firearm on a peace officer or firefighter, with an enhancement for use of a firearm. While incarcerated, on March 6, 2013, Lutts was charged with assault with a deadly weapon as a second striker while in prison, with an enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury. He was sentenced to 9 years, to be served consecutively to his previous charge. On March 11, 2022, also while incarcerated, Lutts was convicted for possession or manufacture of a deadly weapon by a prisoner as a second striker. He was sentenced to serve two more years, consecutive to his two previous terms.
Smith, 40, was most recently admitted from San Joaquin County on Aug. 5, 2016, to serve life with the possibility of parole for one count each of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and mayhem as a second striker, with enhancements for use of a firearm and discharge of firearm causing great bodily injury or death. He had previous terms starting in 2002, when he was sentenced to four years and four months for one count each of evading a police officer causing death or great bodily injury, vehicle theft and failure to appear in court. He was released to parole supervision on June 3, 2003, and discharged on July 26, 2005. Smith was admitted from San Joaquin County on July 26, 2005, to serve 4 years for one count each of first-degree burglary and vehicle theft. He was released to parole supervision on June 9, 2007 and discharged from his sentence after serving the statutory maximum on Nov. 7, 2010.
Smith has been moved to the Administrative Segregation Unit pending investigation of this case. Lutts will also be placed in segregated housing when he returns from the hospital.
About High Desert State Prison
HDSP opened in 1995 and houses approximately 1,700 incarcerated people. It is located near the town of Susanville, in Northern California. HDSP offers academic classes, vocational programs, rehabilitative programs, medical services, and mental health services, religious services, work assignments and self-help groups, and employs approximately 1,000 people.