Convicted rapist from Bay Area was one of 2 inmates killed in Northern California prisons over weekend

Two men serving life sentences in Northern California prisons are suspected of killing their cellmates over the weekend, authorities said Monday.

Deandre A. Lewis, 37, was found unresponsive in his cell on Saturday morning at California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom. 

Deandre A. Lewis, 37, died after being found unresponsive in his cell at California State Prison, Sacramento on Jan. 8, 2022.  (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)

He was pronounced dead a short time later, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said in a statement.

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His cellmate, Shamar L. Thornton, 36, is considered a suspect in his death, the department said. 

Shamar L. Thornton, 36, suspected in killing of his cellmate, Deandre A. Lewis, at California State Prison, Sacramento on Jan. 8, 2022.

Details of Lewis’s death weren’t immediately released. The coroner in Sacramento County is expected to determine the exact cause of death, state corrections officials said. 

In 2018, Lewis was sent to prison from Contra Costa County and was serving life with the possibility of parole for rape, torture and other crimes. He was sentenced to an additional 20 years with a 10-year enhancement for crimes including pimping, human trafficking with the use of a gun, assault with a firearm, and false imprisonment with violence.

Thornton was admitted to prison from San Bernardino County in 2009 and was serving life in prison without chance of parole for first-degree murder.

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Lewis's death was one of two suspected homicides in the California prison system over the weekend. 

Another inmate, Benjy S. Wade, 40, died on Saturday at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, in Lassen County, authorities said. "Life-saving measures were implemented; however, Wade succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 5:15 p.m.," state prison officials said. 

Benjy S. Wade, an inmate at High Desert State Prison in Susanville. was killed on Jan.8, 2022. His cellmate has been identified as the suspect. 

Wade was admitted to prison last August from Colusa County to serve 13 years for robbery with the use of a gun.

John C. Connell, his cellmate, is suspected in his death, authorities said.

John C. Connell is suspected of killing his cellmate, Benjy S. Wade, who was found unresponsive in his cell at High Desert State Prison in Susanville on Jan. 8, 2022.

Connell, 55, was sentenced to prison in the late 1980s from Sacramento County for armed robbery and battery with serious injury. Under California’s "three strikes law," Connell already is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for escaping a Sutter County jail, authorities said.

KTVU contributed to this report.