News Releases

Inmate Death at Kern Valley State Prison Being Investigated as Homicide

DELANO – Officials at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) are investigating the death of an inmate this morning as a homicide.

Inmate Larry T. Hite, 59, was found unresponsive in his cell at 6:35 a.m. KVSP staff immediately began lifesaving measures and an ambulance was called. Hite succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m. His next-of-kin has been notified.

Hite was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on October 1, 2015, from San Bernardino County to serve life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder.

Prison officials have named Hite’s cellmate, Travis Smoot, 25, as a suspect. Smoot was received by CDCR on July 3, 2014, from Kern County to serve a four-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon.

Smoot has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation by KVSP, the Kern County Coroner and the 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

December 1, 2015
CONTACT:LT. Marshall Denning
(661) 721-6314