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Condemned inmate Leon Chauncey Cooper dies of unknown causes

SAN QUENTIN – Condemned inmate Leon Chauncey Cooper, 54, who was on California’s death row from Sacramento County, was pronounced dead Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at 4:40 p.m. at a nearby hospital.  The cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy. Cooper was single-celled.

Cooper was sentenced to death on May 25, 2001, by a Sacramento County jury for the March 26, 1998, rape and murder of 15-year-old LaRhonda Johnson, a Florin High School sophomore, who was his stepdaughter.  A convicted sex offender, Cooper had been previously convicted of sexual battery in 1996 upon Johnson’s 18-year-old sister. Cooper had been on death row since June 13, 2001.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 66 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 23 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, six have died from other causes and two are pending the cause of death. There are 752 people on California’s death row.

March 19, 2015

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