News Releases

Homicide of Pelican Bay Inmate Under Investigation

CRESCENT CITY – Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) officials are investigating the death of a 57-year-old inmate as a homicide. The inmate’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

On Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, at 1:13 p.m., PBSP officers responded when inmate Justin Knuth attacked the inmate on the Facility B recreation yard. An officer discharged one warning shot from the mini 14 rifle to stop the attack and responding staff administered life-saving efforts to the injured inmate; however, he had suffered numerous stab wounds and was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m.

An inmate-made weapon was recovered at the scene.

The deceased inmate was committed from Sacramento County on April 25, 2018, to serve a 13-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, his second strike.

Inmate Justin Knuth, 34, the suspect, was admitted from San Diego County on April 7, 2016, to serve a five-year sentence for first-degree burglary and inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. On Nov. 1, 2016, Knuth received a three-year sentence from San Bernardino County for possession/manufacture of a deadly weapon by a prisoner, an in-prison offense, and on May 30, 2017, he received a one-year sentence from San Bernardino County for battery on a non-prisoner, also an in-prison offense. He was re-housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending investigation.

The Office of Inspector General was notified.

Pelican Bay State Prison, located in Del Norte County, houses 2,651 minimum-, medium-, and maximum-security inmates. The institution provides high school and college academic classes, career technical education, work assignments, self-help programs, arts-in-corrections, computer literacy and other rehabilitation programs that address substance use disorders, anger management and family relationships. The institution opened in 1989 and employs more than 1,200 people.