CORCORAN-- Officials at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran (CSATF/SP) are investigating an inmate death as a homicide.
Michael Benjamin Burch, 67, was found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday, January 31. He was pronounced deceased by prison medical officials and transported to the King’s County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy. The Coroner’s Office ruled the death a homicide Tuesday evening.
Officials from the prison and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office have named Burch’s cellmate, inmate Robert Vargas Salas, 54, as the suspect in the case. Inmate Salas has been placed in the administrative segregation unit while the investigation continues.
Burch was received from Los Angeles County on February 3, 2011, and was serving a 675-year sentence for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14, oral copulation with a child under 14, and rape with force/violence.
Salas was received on August 10, 1977, from Ventura County. He is serving a life-term for first-degree murder.
CSATF/SP is a multi-mission institution that houses 5,981 inmates and employs more than 1,800 people. Opened in 1997, the institution houses minimum-, medium-, and maximum-security male inmates and provides substance-abuse treatment programs, academic and vocational education, and re-entry and self-help programs to prepare inmates for their reintegration into society. ..Source.. by CDCR Today
Second man murdered at Corcoran prison
CORCORAN — Less than two weeks after an inmate assault left a man brain-dead at Corcoran’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, another murder investigation is under way within the facility’s walls.
Michael Benjamin Burch, 67, was found dead in his cell Tuesday after allegedly being beaten and strangled by his cellmate. The Whittier man was serving a 675-year sentence for violently raping an underage girl, officials said.
His body was sent to the Kings County Coroner’s Office, where it was determined that Burch suffered a heart attack as a result of his injuries. Deputy Coroner Tom Edmonds said he died within minutes.
Now Burch’s cellmate, 54-year-old Robert Vargas Salas, has been placed in administrative segregation in connection with the crime. Officials say Salas was transferred to the facility in 1977 and is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
It is not clear what motivated the attack. The case is under joint investigation by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and the SATF Investigative Services Unit.
This marks the second homicide to hit the facility in the last two weeks.
The first claimed the life of Jeffrey Lynn Goodwin, who was declared brain-dead after being assaulted on the recreation yard. The 43-year-old apparently suffered a massive blow to the head and died from complications due to intracerebral bleeding, investigators said.
Two inmates — Chevalier Mills, 47, and Charles Morris, 41 — were named in connection with the murder. Few details have been released in the case because both men were placed in administrative segregation.
Authorities said at the time that Mills was serving a 70-year term for first-degree burglary and sexual penetration of a victim with a foreign object by force or fear. Morris had been sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm by an ex-felon and second-degree robbery.
Both homicide cases remain under investigation. ..Source.. by Joe Johnson