News Releases

Kern Valley State Prison Investigating Inmate Death as a Homicide

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

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, at 7:45 a.m., staff saw inmate Matthew Johnson, 29, run into the cell of inmate Richard Ruse, 51. Staff entered the area and found Johnson hitting Ruse in the head with his fists. Both inmates were ordered to get down, but did not comply. Staff used pepper spray to quell the altercation and placed Johnson in handcuffs. An inmate-manufactured weapon was recovered at the scene.

Medical staff responded and took Ruse to the KVSP Treatment and Triage Area. He was transported to an outside hospital for a higher level of care. Ruse succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 8:59 a.m. He was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from San Diego County on March 23, 1993, to serve a 14-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. He was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree robbery, possession of a firearm, and assault with a firearm and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Johnson has been placed in KVSP’s Administrative Segregation Unit while the incident is investigated. He was received into CDCR custody from Riverside County on May 27, 2016, to serve 28 years to life with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and carrying a concealed dirk or dagger.

Investigators from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office are assisting. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,324 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people.


May 24, 2018

CONTACT: Lt. Michael Betzinger

(661) 721-6314