California man awaiting execution for multiple murders dies

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A man sentenced to death for multiple murders has died from “asphyxia … due to hanging” on the nation’s largest death row, California officials said Wednesday.

Louis Peoples, 58, was pronounced dead after he was found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison north of San Francisco early Sunday, the state corrections department said.

His cause of death was “asphyxia secondary due to hanging,” said Marin County Coroner’s Office spokeswoman Annette Letsche, though the full death report had not yet been completed.

He was sentenced to death in 2000 for three counts of first-degree murder with the use of a firearm, the department said. However, news accounts from the time and a 2016 state Supreme Court ruling upholding his death sentence said he was convicted of four murders.

He first killed a co-worker, tow-truck driver James Loper, in October 1997. In November, he killed Stephen Chacko while robbing a liquor store, then killed Jun Gao and Besun Yu at a grocery store.

The Supreme Court decision said he used a gun stolen from the vehicle of an off-duty Alameda County sheriff’s deputy.

There are currently 706 people on California’s death row. Gov. Gavin Newsom has put a moratorium on executions so long as he is governor.

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