A state prison inmate convicted of attempted murder in Riverside County is a suspect in the death of his cellmate, who was serving time for a Los Angeles County murder, prison officials said Thursday.

Lawrence Tate, 63, was found unresponsive in his cell in North Kern State Prison’s Facility B in Delano around 11 p.m. New Year’s Day and pronounced dead at a medical center shortly after 2 Thursday morning, according to a statement released by prison officials.

Tate had been in state prison since November 2001 and was serving a potential life prison term for second-degree murder.

His cellmate, Willie Clay, 30, was identified by North Kern State Prison officials as a suspect, according to the statement.

Clay had been transferred last month to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from Riverside County, where he was sentenced to a 14-year prison term after being convicted of attempted murder as a second-strike defendant, according to prison officials.

Tate’s death is being investigated by the prison’s Investigative Services Unit and the Kern County Coroner’s Office.

Authorities did not release the cause of Tate’s death.

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