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Pelican Bay State Prison Investigating Inmate Death as a Homicide

CRESCENT CITY – Officials at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) are investigating the death of 42-year-old inmate Joshua E. Kirtley as a homicide.

On Oct. 17 at approximately 12:30 p.m., prison staff during a security check discovered Kirtley unresponsive in his cell. Staff immediately responded, called 911 and began life-saving measures.

Kirtley was transported to PBSPs medical clinic and staff continued medical aid. Paramedics transported him to an outside hospital and he was pronounced dead at 1:05 p.m.

Jesse A Rippee, Kirtley’s cellmate, was on the recreation yard when Kirtley was found. Rippee had multiple injuries, including facial swelling, scratches and bruises. He was treated at the prison and then placed in segregated housing as PBSP’s Investigative Services Unit continues its investigation. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

Kirtley was received on July 28, 2004 from Humboldt County. He was serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder.

Rippee was received on Sept. 24, 2015 from Los Angeles County, sentenced to 10 years for first-degree burglary, a second strike offense. While in prison, he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in 2017 for assault by a prisoner with a deadly weapon or force likely to cause great bodily injury.

PBSP, located in Del Norte County, houses more than 2,300 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.

Jesse Rippee
Joshua Kirtley (higher resolution not available)

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Contact: OPEC terri.hardy@cdcr.ca.gov