Satanist Decapitated Inmate Inside Cell Without Prison Guards Noticing: Report

Prison guards failed to notice that a self-proclaimed satanist deemed too violent to share a cell had killed and decapitated his inmate during their rounds, according to a report.

During the night of March 8 to March 9, 2019, Jaime Osuna, 31, killed his cellmate, Luis Romero, 44, with a makeshift knife, show state documents seen by the Los Angeles Times.

Two new reports on California prisons from the inspector general's office (OIG), obtained by the LA Times, have criticized the guards at Corcoran State Prison as well as the subsequent California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) investigation into the murder of Luis Romero by Jaime Osuna.

The findings say the department's internal investigation of the murder was "poor" and that two officers falsely reported that they had observed Romero as being alive on March 9, 2019.

An additional third and fourth officer did not report they had each seen the two officers "fail to properly conduct the counts," according to one of the reports.

The inspector general's reports also criticized the disciplinary measures taken against the officers accused of not checking up on the inmates. One was initially fired after lying to the internal affairs agent, with the second having their salary cut 5 percent for three years.

After an appeal, the first officer's dismissal was reduced to a nine-month suspension, and the second officer's salary reduction also scaled back to 24 months.

"The department's handling of the case was poor," the inspector general's office said. "In the OIG's opinion, the special agent continually resisted the recommendations of the department attorney regarding conducting interviews and obtaining evidence."

The CDCR denied the allegations, saying in a statement to Newsweek: "Due to the extraordinary nature and complexity of this case, the department committed to ensuring a thorough and complete investigation from the very beginning.

"We respectfully disagree with the OIG's assessment into this case, as based on our investigation and findings, all of the disciplinary actions in this case were served within mandated statutory timeframes."

The reports seen by the LA Times do not speculate why the officers did not find Romero's desecrated body until the early hours of March 9 in 2019, but a lawsuit filed by the victim's family claimed the cell bars were covered by a white bed sheet, preventing anyone outside from peering in.

The suit claims no Corcoran prison official bothered to conduct a routine safety check during the evening of March 8 and no one forced Osuna or Romero to take down the sheet despite it being draped across the cell.

When prison officers eventually conducted a safety check in the early hours of March 9, officers found Romero's disfigured body, with Osuna wearing a necklace made of his victim's body parts, according to court documents.

"The delay of nighttime safety checks was so severe that Osuna had time to decapitate Romero, make a necklace of Romero's body parts, and cover the cell in blood, all with a small razor," the lawsuit states.

The claim added that the prosecutor assigned to Romero's murder, Kings County Executive Assistant District Attorney Phil Esbenshade, called it "probably the most unusual and gruesome case that I've had in my career."

There have also been questions about why Osuna was sharing a cell with Romero in the first place.

According to the suit from Romero's family, the CDCR was aware that he was prone to violence and had never shared a cell in all the years he had been in prison. At the time, Osuna was serving a life sentence for the murder and torture of Yvette Pena, 37, at a motel in Bakersfield, California, in 2011.

The suit also claims that CDCR was in possession of documents from Osuna's own lawyers and medical team, warning of his propensity for "extreme violence, insatiable desire to kill, and need to be held in a psychiatric ward" instead of a prison with other inmates prior to placing him in the cell with Romero.

"Despite being put on notice that Osuna would kill again and despite glaring evidence that Osuna was an inmate who should not be housed with any other inmate, defendants either rushed or ignored the normal administrative committee process, and placed Luis Romero in a cell with Jaime Osuna within 24 hours of Romero arriving at Corcoran jail," the documents state.

Osuna has since been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison's psychiatric inpatient program, according to LA Times. He has been diagnosed with an unspecified schizophrenia spectrum, antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder.

Kings County Judge Randy Edwards ruled Osuna unfit to stand trial for Romero's death in January 2021.

Update 4/28/21, 12:10 p.m. ET: The article has been updated with comments from the CDCR.

Jaime Osuna killed inmate
Jaime Osuna beheaded his cellmate, Luis Romero in 2019, but prison guards reported both men as alive after they made their rounds, according to a report. CDCR