Death Row Inmate at San Quentin Dies

Louis Peoples
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A 58-year-old man on death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing four people in the Stockton area in 1997 died Sunday after being found unresponsive in his cell, state correctional officials announced Wednesday.

Louis Peoples was pronounced dead at about 4:15 a.m. Sunday. The Marin County coroner's office will determine his cause of death, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Peoples, a former tow truck driver, killed his victims with a gun stolen from the van of an off-duty Alameda County sheriff's deputy who was watching his son play baseball at a park in Stockton.

The victims, killed in three separate shootings in the Stockton area in October and November 1997, were James Loper, a driver at the tow truck company that suspended Peoples from working there, liquor store employee Stephen Chacko, and grocery store workers Besun Yu and Jun Gao.

Pretrial publicity about the case prompted its move from San Joaquin County to Alameda County, where a jury convicted Peoples of the four murders and he was sentenced to death.

The death penalty sentence was upheld in 2016 by the California Supreme Court, which rejected various arguments in which Peoples claimed his trial was unfair. His attorneys had argued at his trial that his reasoning and self-control were impaired by methamphetamine use and childhood abuse.

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