2 Inmates Suspected in Death of Fellow Inmate by Improvised Weapons

2 Inmates Suspected in Death of Fellow Inmate by Improvised Weapons

Raul Mendoza, left, was allegedly attacked by Andrew Espinoza, center, and Frank Vasquez at Kern Valley State Prison. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin


Updated: 5/22/2024


California prison officials are investigating the death of an inmate at Kern Valley State Prison as a homicide, the state announced May 16.
Two inmates at the central California prison allegedly attacked inmate Raul Mendoza, 30, using improvised weapons at about 2:20 p.m. May 13, according to an announcement by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Mr. Mendoza received multiple puncture wounds, prison officials said. After life-saving measures were performed at the scene, he was taken to an outside medical facility for a higher level of care. He died of his injuries at 1:06 p.m. May 16.
The weapons were recovered at the scene, officials reported.
The suspects, Andrew Espinoza, 29, and Frank Vasquez, 44, were moved to a restricted housing unit during the investigation by the prison, the county district attorney’s office, and the county coroner.
Mr. Mendoza was serving a two-year, eight-month sentence for carrying a loaded firearm in public while active in a gang. He was also sentenced by Los Angeles County in 2016 to 11 years for voluntary manslaughter with a firearm.
Mr. Espinoza began a sentence of more than seven years in 2023 for carjacking and evading a peace officer while driving recklessly.
Mr. Vasquez was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and second-degree robbery in 2015.

Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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