2 death row killers die in apparent suicides, San Quentin says

CALIFORNIA — Two convicted killers awaiting execution in California apparently killed themselves over the weekend, San Quentin State Prison officials say.

Andrew Urdiales, 54, was found unresponsive during a security check about 11:15 p.m. Friday, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

Then, about 10:15 p.m. Sunday, Virendra Govin, 51, was found unresponsive in his cell.

Guards tried CPR on both men, but the inmates were pronounced dead. Each was kept alone in his cell, and the state said their deaths do not appear related.

Urdiales was sentenced to death last month.

The deaths of convicted killers Andrew Urdiales, left, and Virendra Govin don’t appear related..

In the 1980s and ’90s, he killed five women while stationed with the US Marine Corps in various Southern California locations.

He was arrested in Illinois and sentenced to die there in 1996 for killing three women in four months. That sentence was commuted to life in prison when Illinois outlawed capital punishment, CNN affiliate KTLA reported. Urdiales was then extradited to California to stand trial for the earlier string of murders.

“Urdiales was a monster who did not deserve to breathe the same air we all enjoy,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. “He remained a callous coward until the end as he robbed the victims’ families of the right to be present when the state put him to death.”

Govin was sentenced in December 2004 for killing four people. He, his brother and another man then set the family’s home on fire. Govin’s brother has been on death row since September 2005.

Officials said they are investigating both deaths as suicides, although the causes will need to be determined by autopsies.

San Quentin is just north of San Francisco.

The corrections department said it has 740 inmates on death row. Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978:

• 79 have died from natural causes.
• 25 have died by suicide.
• 13 have been executed in California, and two in other states.