News Releases

Inmate Death at Kern Valley State Prison Being Investigated as Homicide

DELANO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is investigating as a potential homicide the death of an inmate Wednesday morning at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP).
Inmate Gustavo Vital, 34, was found unresponsive in his cell at 1:50 a.m. Nov. 11. Staff immediately began lifesaving measures, and an ambulance was called. Vital succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m. Nov. 11. His next-of-kin has been notified.
Prison officials have named Vital’s cellmate, Jesse Serrano, 37, as a suspect. Serrano was received by CDCR on Feb. 14, 2013, from Los Angeles County to serve a 16-year sentence for using a hostage as a shield, with a firearm involved.
Vital was received by CDCR on March 19, 2012, from Los Angeles County to serve 33 years and four months for second-degree robbery.
Serrano has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation by KVSP, Kern County Coroner and Kern County District Attorney. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.
KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,819 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Lt. Marshall Denning
(661) 721-6314