SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/CBS13) — A California inmate condemned to death nearly four decades ago for killing a police officer died Friday of natural causes at age 71, prison officials said.
James Odle died at an outside hospital 37 years after he was sent to the nation’s largest death row at San Quentin State Prison, which has 709 condemned inmates.
California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006. Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions so long as he is governor.
In August 1983, Odle was sentenced to death in Contra Costa County for the first-degree murders of Rena Aguilar and Pinole Police Officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz. He also was convicted of vehicle theft, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer and weapons possession.
According to the state Supreme Court, Odle beat Aguilar with a tire iron, stabbed and strangled her because he was afraid she would “snitch” that he had stolen a van that he and others used for a day-long beer-drinking party.
Bystanders found her crying for help, partially propped up against a stack of newspapers on the front porch of a house. She died at a hospital.
Swartz died three days later when he was hit by a single bullet from Odle’s sawed-off rifle during the first of two shootouts with police before Odle was arrested.