Crime - Sacto 911

Inmate death at Folsom prison being investigated as a homicide

An inmate was found dead in his cell at the California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom on Thursday and officials said his cellmate is a suspect, according to a news release.

Tou Thao, 38, was found unresponsive and lying on the floor of his cell during a prisoner count on Thursday at about noon. Prison staff performed CPR before Thao was transported to a local hospital where he was declared dead, according the the release.

Authorities said they are investigating his death as a homicide and have named his cellmate Jose Negrete, 45, as the suspect. Negrete has been moved to segregated housing while the investigation is ongoing.

Negrete is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole at the prison for multiple charges including sodomy with force, kidnapping, sexual battery, attempted oral copulation and attempted penetration with a foreign object. He has been at the prison since 1997.

Thao was midway through a six-year sentence for a second -degree robbery charge, which he started serving in 2016.

California State Prison, Sacramento was opened in 1986 and houses over 2,100 inmates as of Sep. 4. It is adjacent to Folsom State Prison.

Mack Ervin III covers breaking news and high school sports for The Bee. A journalism student at Sacramento State, he follows auto racing and most other sports.