On 9 March, 2019, Jaime Osuna, 31, killed, decapitated and dissected the body of his cellmate, Luis Romero, 44, with an improvised knife, according to reports from the state.
The guards at Corcoran State Prison, where Osuna and Romero were incarcerated, reported after their rounds that both men were alive, even after the grisly murder took place.
The death and subsequent failure of guards to report it have drawn calls for investigations into why Romero was placed in a cell with Osuna, who had a history of attacking his cellmates.
A state report cited by The Los Angeles Times blamed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for incompetence in its investigation and its delay in disciplining the guards.
The reports about the murder do not contain information about why the guards did not find the body.
According to a lawsuit filed by Romero's family, there was a white sheet over the cell's bars, which suggested the guards did not make a thorough search of the cell.
The state's Department of Corrections rejected the report's findings and insisted that it had conducted a "thorough and complete investigation from the very beginning."
However, a lawyer for Romero's family, Justin Sterling, said the department had a "veil of secrecy" it used to protect its officers from consequences.
“The idea that my client had to sue in order to get basic questions answered about her son’s death is disheartening,” Mr Sterling said.
Both men in the cell had histories of violent crimes.
Romero had already spent 27 years in prison when he was transferred into Osuna's cell. He had been convicted of second-degree murder after shooting and killing a woman in Compton when he was a teenager. The shooting was associated with gang activity.
Osuna was serving a life sentence for torturing and killing Yvette Pena, 37, at a motel in Bakersfield, California in 2011. The man – whose face is covered in tattoos including a Satanic pentagram – embraced his role as a villain, mocking the family of his victim during his trial and gleefully telling reporters that he loved torturing people.
On the day of the murder, Osuna used a razor-blade to slice Romero, cutting out his eyes and chopping off one of his fingers before removing part of his ribs and slicing out his lung.
After disfiguring and dissecting Romero, he cut off Romero's head, and sliced the man's face on either side of his mouth to make it seem as though the victim had a wide smile on his face.
When guards eventually discovered the scene, they found Osuna wearing a necklace made of Romero's body parts.
Osuna had never had a cellmate prior to Romero.
The man had a history of assaulting other inmates. At one point prior to Romero's murder, Osuna found his way into another inmate's cell, where he stabbed and slashed the man's face. The injuries resulted in 67 stitches. The victim did not want prison officials to have the photographs of his injuries because he feared Osuna obtaining a copy to add to his collection of "trophies" from his victims.
Osuna has been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison's psychiatric inpatient program, and has been diagnosed with an unspecified schizophrenia disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
He has been ruled not competent to stand for trial in Romero's death.
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