RivCo inmate found dead at Lancaster prison – cell mate, also from RivCo, suspected

RIVERSIDE COUNTY — A Riverside County man serving a 20-year sentence at California State Prison in Lancaster was allegedly killed by his cell mate last Friday, Nov. 9, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation said Tuesday.

Both men were from Riverside County and had been incarcerated at the prison since 2015, according to CDCR. It was not immediately known if the two men knew each other before being sentenced and assigned to the same cell.


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CDCR officials believe Stephen Marrufo was responsible for the death of his cell mate, Robert Garten. Both men were from Riverside County.

The man killed was later identified as 50-year-old, Robert Allen Garten Jr., according to CDCR Lt. Richard Ochoa. Superior Court records indicate Garten was in prison for solicitation of murder – his second strike, assault with a deadly weapon, personal use of a dangerous or deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury.

The inmate officials believe was responsible for Garten’s death was identified as 32-year-old Stephen Anthony Marrufo. Marrufo is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder after fatally stabbing a woman in a Jurupa Valley intersection, in December, 2014.

According to Ochoa, guards within the facility’s Administrative Segregation unit conducting cell block checks about 8:45 p.m. found Garten unresponsive and seriously injured.

Guards immediately alerted medical staff, who attempted life-saving measures on the gravely injured inmate as an ambulance was summoned. Garten was transported to an outside hospital, where he died less than an hour later, said Ochoa.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies have assumed the investigation and Marrufo has since been isolated in a segregation unit while Garten’s violent death is investigated, according to Ochoa.

See Also: Officials investigating in-custody RPDC death

During their investigation officials discovered Marrufo had bruises on his feet and one of his hands, as well as red blotches on the back of his neck, all indicative of a violent altercation that may have led to Garten’s death.

According to Ochoa, an autopsy has been scheduled to determine Garten’s cause of death and officials have not said what may have led to the deadly incident.


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Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.