An autopsy was pending Monday to determine the cause of death of a 35-year-old inmate, who had been on death row at San Quentin State Prison for nearly 10 years for murdering an off-duty Los Angeles County police captain during an attempted robbery.
Emergency lifesaving measures were started immediately after Miguel Angel Magallon was found unresponsive in his cell on Saturday at 6:17 a.m., but he could not be revived and was pronounced dead at 6:49 a.m., according to Lt. Sam Robinson of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Magallon was 26 when he was sentenced to death on Oct. 15, 2009, for the 2004 murder of Capt. Michael Sparkes Sr. of the Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy called Magallon a “predator” who “didn’t think twice about ending Captain Sparkes’ life.”
With the captain’s widow, Deloris, looking on from the first row of a packed courtroom, the judge said the 53-year-old veteran law enforcement officer was a “completely innocent victim” and that anyone in the room could have found themselves in that position.
“It was a cold-blooded killing, plain and simple … absolutely horrible,” the judge said, noting that Magallon exhorted his next-door neighbor and co-defendant, Orvis Anthony, to drive back around the block so Magallon could launch a second round of gunfire at the victim, who posed no danger to him at that point.
Sparkes was confronted while riding his bicycle and then shot with a military-style assault rifle shortly after 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 10, 2004, at Redondo Beach and Avalon boulevards in the Rosewood area near Compton.
He was shot nine times in two bursts from the assault rifle, but managed to fire 16 rounds from a 9 mm Beretta handgun that he carried with his badge in his fanny pack while riding his bicycle. Magallon, who was found to have committed the crime to benefit his street gang, was hit by one bullet.
Sparkes, who had been with the county police department for 30 years, died at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he had supervised the hospital’s security force.
In addition to his wife, he left behind a son, who was 7 years old at the time.
The judge said Magallon had an opportunity to show remorse when he testified during the penalty phase of his trial, in which the defendant told jurors the slaying was “tragic” and “was something that wasn’t even supposed to happen.”
But the remorse “just wasn’t there,” the judge said.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think he feels any remorse,” Kennedy said, adding that she thinks he’s only sorry that he got caught, noting that he was “entrenched” in a violent lifestyle that included the jailhouse slashings of fellow inmates, a threat to use his colostomy bag to spray a sheriff’s deputy in jail and a July 1999 shooting in which he was suspected of — but was not charged with — seriously wounding a man.
His co-defendant initially pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January 2006 in exchange for a 50-year-to-life prison term and his agreement to testify in any court proceedings against Magallon.
Anthony testified in Magallon’s preliminary hearing, but the prosecution withdrew the plea agreement after he refused to testify during Magallon’s trial.
In June 2009, Anthony, then 24, again pleaded guilty to the same charge. He was sentenced several months later to 50 years to life in state prison and waived credit for five years he had already served in jail in connection with the case.
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