Crime - Sacto 911

Cellmate is suspect in death of 77-year-old Mule Creek State Prison inmate

A 77-year-old Mule Creek State Prison inmate was found dead Monday morning and a fellow inmate is a suspect in what is being investigated as a homicide, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Robert E. Hunter was found unresponsive in his cell during a routine security check at the prison in Ione. He had blunt-force injuries to his face, and prison medical staff members pronounced him dead at 7:57 a.m., according to a department news release.

Hunter entered the prison system from Riverside County in January 2010 with a sentence of 15 years to life with the possibility of parole under California’s "three strikes" law on a charge of oral copulation of a child, the news release said.

Hunter's cellmate, 46-year-old Matthew Wanser, was taken into custody as a suspect in the death. Wanser is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for two counts of first-degree murder, the news release said. He entered the prison system from San Diego County in November 1998.

The incident is being investigated by the prison's Investigative Services Unit, and prison authorities have notified the Office of the Inspector General, the news release said.

Inmate movement at the prison has been limited during the investigation.