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Death Row Inmate Commits Suicide In San Quentin Prison

SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) -- A death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison committed suicide in his cell late Friday night, prison spokesman Lt. Sam Robinson said.

A corrections officer making a regular inmate check found Timothy Russell, 53, hanging in his cell around 11:55 p.m. Friday, Robinson said.

Russell tied a linen bed sheet to the cell bars of his single cell and was pronounced dead at 12:48 a.m. Saturday, Robinson said.

Russell was sentenced to death on Jan. 8, 1999 by a Riverside County jury for killing two Riverside County sheriff's deputies, James Lehmann Jr., 41, of Apple Valley, and Michael Haugen, 33, of San Jacinto, on Jan. 5, 1997.

The ambush slaying occurred outside Russell's residence in a remote desert area of Whitewater in an unincorporated area of Riverside County.

Russell was on death row since Jan. 14, 1999.

Twenty-two other death row inmates have committed suicide since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Sixty condemned inmates have died of natural causes on death row and 13 were executed. The most recent execution was in 2006, according to the CDCR.

There are currently 741 offenders on death row in California.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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