News Releases

CORRECTED: Two Condemned Inmates’ Deaths Being Investigated as Suicides

SAN QUENTIN – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials are investigating the deaths of two condemned inmates that occurred over the weekend.

On Friday night at about 11:15 p.m., staff found Andrew Urdiales, 54, unresponsive during a security check in the Adjustment Center. Correctional officers performed CPR. Urdiales was pronounced dead at 12:06 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Urdiales was sentenced to death on Oct. 5, 2018, by an Orange County jury for the first-degree murders of 23-year-old Robbin Brandley who was attacked as she walked to her car following a concert on Jan. 18, 1986, at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo; 31-year-old Mary Ann Wells on Sept. 25, 1988, in San Diego; 29-year-old Julie McGhee on July 17, 1988, in Cathedral City; 20-year-old Tammie Erwin on April 16, 1989, in Palm Springs; and 32-year-old Denise Maney on March 11, 1995, in Palm Springs. The murders occurred when Urdiales was stationed at various U.S. Marine Corps facilities in Southern California.

Urdiales was previously convicted In Illinois of the murders of Laura Uylaki, 25, and Lynn Huber, 22, on May 23, 2002, and sentenced to death on May 30, 2002. On Jan. 11, 2003, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan ruled that all 167 people sentenced to death in Illinois – including Urdiales – would have their death sentences converted to life without parole. Urdiales was re-sentenced to death for the murder of Cassandra Corum, 21, on May 10, 2004. That death sentence was commuted to life in March 2011 when former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in that state.

Urdiales had been on California’s death row since Oct. 12, 2018. His cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, his death is being investigated as a suicide. He was single-celled.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, at approximately 10:15 p.m., staff found condemned inmate Virendra Govin, 51, unresponsive in his cell in the North Segregation housing unit. Staff administered CPR; however, Govin was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. He was also single celled.

Govin was sentenced to death by a Los Angeles County jury on Dec. 21, 2004, for the first-degree murders of 42-year-old Gita Kumar, 18-year-old Plara Kumar, 16-year-old Tulsi Kumar, and 63-year-old Sitaben Patel. Govin, his brother Pravin Govin, and Carlos Amador, then set the Kumars’ home on fire. Govin was received onto California’s death row on Jan. 5, 2005. His brother Pravin has been on death row since Sept. 19, 2005.

Govin’s cause of death is also pending the results of an autopsy; however, it is also being investigated as a suicide. There is no indication that his and Urdiales’ deaths are related.

Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 79 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 11 have died from other causes and two are pending a cause of death. There are currently 740 offenders on California’s death row.

Contact: Terry Thornton, (916) 445-4950