A Whitewater man sentenced to death for gunning two Riverside County sheriff's deputies in the 1990s apparently killed himself in his San Quentin prison cell, state officials said today.
Timothy Russell, 53, was discovered unconscious in his single-bed cell on death row at 11:55 p.m. Friday and was pronounced dead around 12:50 a.m. Saturday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"The death is being investigated as a suicide," said CCDR Lt. Sam Robinson.
A likely cause of death was not disclosed.
Russell was convicted in January 1999 of the ambush-slayings of 33-year- old Michael Haugen and 41-year-old James Lehmann.
The deputies were sent to the defendant's residence east of Cabazon to investigate reports of a domestic assault. Russell's estranged wife had fled the home and taken refuge at a neighbor's house after being punched and kicked.
When Haugen and Lehmann arrived, Russell opened fire with an M-1 carbine, a semiautomatic rifle that dates back to World War II. He fired a dozen shots, killing both deputies before they had a chance to draw their weapons.
According to the CCDR, since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 22 death row inmates have committed suicide, 60 have died from natural causes, six have died from causes listed as "other," and 13 have been executed.
There are 741 convicts currently sitting on death row.