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West Covina death-row inmate, condemned for Ontario killing, found dead in prison cell

By in Press Enterprise on February 2, 2018

By Stephen Ramirez

A West Covina man who was on death row in San Quentin prison for the 2000 murder of a Brink’s guard was found dead in his cell Wednesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported.

Joe Henry Abbott, on death row for a 2000 murder of a Brink’s guard outside an Ontario Bank, died Wednesday.
(Courtesy photo)

Joe Henry Abbott, on death row since 2006, was found in his cell unresponsive at 3:23 p.m., a CDCR news release said. Life-saving measures were started before he was pronounced dead at 4:09 p.m.

The cause of death is unknown, pending the results of an autopsy, the release said. Abbott was in a single cell.

Abbott was sentenced to death by a San Bernardino County jury on Feb. 17, 2006, for the Oct. 30, 2000, murder of guard Samuel Saenz, the release said. Saenz had exited an Ontario Bank of America and was taking a white bag to an armored vehicle. Abbott fired two shots to the back of Saenz’s head, knocking him to the ground.

After picking up the bag, Abbott then fired an execution-style shot to the back of Saenz’s head before fleeing with other suspects, the release said. He escaped with $202,282.90 that has never been recovered.

Abbott turned himself in to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Nov. 15, 2000, the release said.

The release also noted that since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 74 condemned inmates had died of natural causes, 25 have committed suicide and 13 have been executed.

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