A South Los Angeles gang member whose conviction and death sentence for the 1991 killings of two gang rivals was reversed by the California Supreme Court was found dead in his cell while awaiting retrial in the case, state officials said Monday.
Michael “Fat Rat” Allen, 49, was found unresponsive in his cell at the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 6, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was treated by medical staff, but was pronounced dead that night, officials said.
A cause of death was pending.
Allen was initially sent to prison in December 1993 to serve life without parole for murder and attempted murder. While incarcerated, he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997 along with notorious gang leader Cleamon “Big Evil” Johnson for the Aug. 5, 1991, killings of Donald Ray Loggins and Payton Beroit, who were shot three times each while sitting in a white Toyota Supra parked outside a car wash in the 8700 block of South Central Avenue.
That conviction and death sentence, however, were overturned in 2011, with the state Supreme Court ruling that the trial judge erred by discharging a juror during deliberations in the guilt phase of the trial for prejudging the case and relying on evidence that was not presented at trial.
“Because the record does not show to a demonstrable reality that Juror No. 11 was unable to discharge his duty, the (trial) court abused its discretion by removing him,” according to the court’s ruling.
Allen was moved from San Quentin State Prison to a Los Angeles County jail cell in 2012 to await retrial in the case, which was still pending at the time of his death.