SANTA ANA, Calif. – An indictment unsealed today charges four prison inmates with first-degree murder in the beating death of another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution II in Victorville, an offense that carries a potential death sentence.
In addition to the premeditated murder charge, all four defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The indictment unsealed today was returned by a federal grand jury on August 29. The four defendants are accused in the October 1, 2013 killing of a 38-year-old inmate identified in the indictment as “J.S.,” who was repeatedly hit and kicked, dying as a result of blunt force head trauma.
The defendants charged in the indictment are:
- Aurelio Patino, also known as “Augie,” 35, most recently of Riverside, who at the time of the alleged murder was serving a 16-month sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and who is currently serving a 100-month sentence in a California state prison;
- Adilson Reyes, aka “Shanky,” 37, most recently of Los Angeles, who is serving a 135-month sentence in a cocaine distribution case;
- Christopher Ruiz, aka “Sneaky,” 44, most recently of San Diego, who is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted on racketeering and methamphetamine charges; and
- Jose Villegas, aka “Torch,” 37, most recently of Los Angeles, who is serving a 15-year sentence in a methamphetamine case.
All four defendants are currently being housed in different prisons and in the near future will be brought to the Central District of California for arraignments in United States District Court.
According to the indictment, J.S. was escorted to the recreation yard in the prison, where he was attacked. Patino, Ruiz and Villegas allegedly used their hands and feet to strike J.S. When Reyes was informed that J.S. was no longer breathing, he instructed the other three defendants to continue beating J.S., the indictment alleges.
The indictment contains allegations that all four defendants participated in the attack, intentionally killed J.S., and “[c]omitted the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse to the victim.”
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
If they were to be convicted of the first-degree murder charge in the indictment, each defendant would face a mandatory sentence of life without parole in federal prison or, potentially, the death penalty.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(source: US Attorney’s Office news release)