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San Quentin Inmate On Death Row Since 1982 Found Dead Thursday

James Leslie Karis, 61, had been on death row since since 1982.

An inmate on death row was found deceased at San Quentin State Prison Thursday morning.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 61-year-old James Leslie Karis, who was on California's death row, was found unresponsive in his cell and subsequently pronounced dead at the prison at 6:40 a.m.

The cause of death remains under investigation. Karis was sentenced to death on Sept. 17, 1982 by a Sacramento County jury for the rape and murder of Peggy Pennington, 34, and the attempted murder of Patty Vander Dussen, 27, on July 8, 1981.

Karis abducted the two women during their daily walk around the El Dorado County Welfare Department, where they were employed.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Karis had been on death row since Sept. 20, 1982.

Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 13 condemned inmates have been executed in California, 57 have died of natural causes and 21 have committed suicide.

Additionally, one condemned inmate was executed in Missouri and six have died of other causes. There are 729 offenders on death row in California, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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