Crime - Sacto 911

Homicide suspected in death of state prison inmate from Shasta County

The death of a state prison inmate serving a sentence for a conviction in a Shasta County case is being investigated as a homicide.

Inmate Rashell Clarke, 39, was found unresponsive at 10:48 a.m. Saturday in his cell at California State Prison - Los Angeles County in Lancaster. Staff members immediately began lifesaving measures and and called for an ambulance, according to a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release. Clarke was pronounced dead at 11:26 a.m.

Clarke entered the prison system Jan. 12, 2010, to serve a sentence of 22 years and eight months for a Shasta County conviction for abusing/endangering the health of a child.

Prison officials and local law enforcement agencies were questioning Clarke’s cellmate, 33-year-old Leron Morris, as a suspect, prison authorities said. Morris entered the prison system from Contra Costa County on Sept. 13, 2005, and is serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for first-degree murder.

The Lancaster prison provides long-term housing for male inmates held under minimum, medium and maximum security levels. The facility, which opened in 1993, houses about 3,500 inmates.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy