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3 guilty after killing prisoner in Victorville

VICTORVILLE, Calif. ( – Three men have been found guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution II in Victorville, the Justice Department announced.

Aurelio Patino, a.k.a. “Augie,” 39, of Riverside, Christopher Ruiz, 48, of San Diego, and Jose Villegas, a.k.a. “Torch,” 41, of Los Angeles, all appeared in front of a federal jury who found the defendants committed the October 1, 2013, murder of a 38-year-old inmate identified in court documents as “J.S..”

The trio repeatedly hit and kicked the victim who died because of blunt force trauma to the head, the Department said.

Patino, at the time of the murder, was serving a 16-month sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and previously was serving a 100-month sentence in a California state prison; Ruiz is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted of racketeering and methamphetamine-related charges; and Villegas is serving a 15-year sentence in a methamphetamine case.

“According to evidence presented at their six-day trial, J.S. was escorted to the recreation yard in the prison, where he was attacked,” according to the news release.

Patino, Ruiz and Villegas used their hands and feet to strike J.S. In addition to the murder charge, all three defendants pleaded guilty in November 2022 to conspiracy to commit the second-degree murder of J.S.

United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney scheduled a June 12 sentencing hearing, at which time each defendant will face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison, the Department said.

The FBI investigated this matter.

Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory S. Scally, Gregory W. Staples, and Faraz R. Mohammadi of the Santa Ana Branch Office are prosecuting this case.

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