Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Inmate Death at Kern Valley State Prison Being Investigated as Homicide

DELANO – Officials at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) are investigating the death of an inmate as a homicide.

Inmate Johnny R. Montenegro, 27, was found unresponsive in his cell at approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. KVSP staff immediately began lifesaving measures and an ambulance was called. Montenegro succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 3:48 a.m. His next-of-kin has been notified.

Montenegro was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on May 13, 2015, from San Bernardino County to serve a three-year sentence for possession of or owning a firearm by a felon.

Prison officials have named Montenegro’s cellmate, Renick De Anda, 41, as a suspect. De Anda was received by CDCR on November 3, 2005, from Los Angeles County to serve a life-with-the-possibility-of-parole sentence for first-degree murder.

De Anda has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation by KVSP, the Kern County Coroner and the Kern County District Attorney. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,946 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people. For more information, visit

CONTACT:  LT. Michael Betzinger (661) 721-6314