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San Quentin Death Row Inmate Louis Peoples Found Dead In His Cell

SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) -- A Stockton man sentenced to death for the murders of four people in 1997 was found dead in his cell at San Quentin State Prison, prison officials said Wednesday.

Louis Peoples, 58, was found unresponsive in his cell on Sunday at 4:15 a.m. and pronounced dead, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said.

The Marin County Coroner's Office said the cause of death was "asphyxia secondary due to hanging." Coroner spokeswoman Annette Letsche said the full death report had not yet been completed.

Louis Peoples
Louis Peoples (CDCR)

In October 1997, Peoples was suspended from his job as a tow truck driver after testing positive for methamphetamine. Prosecutors said out of revenge, later that month he murdered a tow truck driver from the same company after calling for a tow using an alias. The next day Peoples called the firm using his real name asking to come back to his job but was turned down.

The driver, James Loper, was shot 10 times using a gun Peoples had stolen from an off-duty Alameda County Sheriff's deputy.

Days later, Peoples robbed a liquor store and shot the clerk, Stephen Chacko, to death after chasing him down into the parking lot. Days later, Peoples robbed another store and fatally shot two store workers,  Besun Yu and Jun Gao.

Peoples was arrested the next day and investigators found a scrapbook where he had detailed his crimes along with his Stephen Chackoown comments. He was sentenced to death in Alameda County on August 4, 2000.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been 28 deaths of inmates at San Quentin from COVID - the most among all state prisons - including a number of Death Row inmates.

There are currently 706 people on California's death row, the CDCR said. Governor Gavin Newsom has placed a moratorium on any executions in the state.

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