Photo by Zboralski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Zboralski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A 60-year-old man on death row for a violent kidnapping, rape and murder spree in Los Angeles nearly 40 years ago that included the killing of a USC student librarian died in his cell Tuesday at San Quentin State Prison.

There was no immediate word of the cause of death.

Stevie Lamar Fields was found unresponsive at 5:38 a.m. and was pronounced dead 27 minutes later, after lifesaving measures failed, according to Lt. Sam Robinson of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Fields had been housed alone, and the cause of his death was pending an autopsy, Robinson said.

Fields’ crime spree occurred in Los Angeles in the fall of 1978.

On Sept. 28 of that year, he fatally shot and bludgeoned 26-year-old USC student Janet Cobbs — who he had kidnapped, raped and robbed — in the back of a car driven by his sister.

He was also convicted of subsequently kidnapping, robbing and raping three other women, two of whom were described in court papers as prostitutes. The third woman, an 18-year-old USC student, was attacked after being kidnapped at gunpoint on Oct. 5.

Fields also was convicted of stealing a Pontiac Grand Am at gunpoint on Oct. 2, 1978, and using the car during the attacks on the three surviving women.

Fields murdered Cobbs 15 days after being paroled from prison, where he had served a five-year sentence for manslaughter for bludgeoning a man to death with a barbell.

According to Robinson, Fields had been on death row since Aug. 27, 1979.

In 1984, within 42 hours of being executed, Fields won a stay from the state Supreme Court so that his lawyers could have more time to plead his case.

A federal appeals court later reinstated his death penalty and that decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

— City News Service 

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