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James Mullins Jr., 46

James Mullins Jr., a 46-year-old black man, was found dead Sunday, Dec. 4, in the 44700 block of 60th Street West in Lancaster, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

At the time of his death, Mullins was being held at the California State Prison, where he was serving a sentence for a second-degree robbery.

Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Mullins' cellmate passed a note to guards at breakfast saying that Mullins appeared to be dead.

Guards discovered Mullins "in his bunk, under the blanket," and emergency efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, Thornton said.

Coroner officials noticed "something suspicious" on the body that led them to consider the death a homicide. It was later determined that Mullins died by suffocation.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent homicide detectives to the scene to assist state prison officials with the death investigation.

The alleged assailant is being held in single-person cell until "we see how the investigation progresses," Thornton said.

This death is the fourth suspected homicide in the state prison system since early October, she added.

-- Larry Gordon

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