News Releases

Centinela State Prison Investigating Inmate Death as Homicide

IMPERIAL — Centinela State Prison officials are investigating the death of inmate Matthew J. Herrera, 38, as a possible homicide.

On Wednesday, June 12, at approximately 2:20 p.m., inmates Carlos Monge and Martin Lara, Jr. were observed beginning an attack on Herrera in a housing unit. Staff immediately responded, using batons and pepper spray to quell the attack. Monge and Lara, Jr. were placed in restraints.

Staff discovered Herrera had been stabbed multiple times and initiated life-saving measures at the scene. He was transported to the prison’s treatment area. Medical staff continued life-saving measures until Herrera was pronounced dead at 3:12 p.m.

Prison staff recovered two inmate-manufactured weapons inside the cell. Monge and Lara are considered suspects and have been placed in the prison’s administrative segregation unit pending the completion of the investigation. The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office are assisting prison officials with the investigation. 

Inmate movement has been limited while the investigation is conducted.

Herrera was received from Los Angeles County on June 17, 2010 to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder.

Monge, 29, was received from Los Angeles County on April 28, 2017 to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole for attempted second-degree murder as a second striker and intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury/death.

Lara Jr., 34, was received from Santa Barbara County on Feb. 8, 2008 to serve a life sentence with the possibility of parole for second-degree murder and shooting from a motor vehicle.

Centinela State Prison opened in 1993 and houses over 3,500 inmates.  The prison provides for the confinement of minimum- and maximum-security inmates in general population and sensitive needs settings.