HANFORD — Convicted murderer Jaime Osuna pled not guilty to his most recent charge in court Friday.
The 31-year-old is accused of torturing and killing his cellmate, Luis Romero, in March while serving a life sentence in Corcoran State Prison.
Osuna plead not guilty to Romero’s slaying and other charges in April. He was originally convicted of torturing and murdering a Bakersfield woman in 2011.
Osuna was recently charged with possession of a dangerous weapon because of an incident that occurred prior to Romero’s murder, Assistant District Attorney Phil Esbenshade said. On Nov. 30, 2018, Osuna was found with a sharpened metal rod, commonly known as a shank, in his cell.
Osuna allegedly tortured and murdering his cellmate about three months later with another weapon, this time a razor attached to a small handle with string, Esbenshade said.
Romero’s slaying included extreme pain and suffering for revenge, according to court documents. Charges accuse Osuna of beheading Romero and inflicting other torture, such as cutting his tongue and poking out his eye.
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“The crime was particularly heinous,” Esbenshade said. “The serious level of the charges that we have filed, making Osuna eligible to receive the death penalty, reflects the extremely cruel and atrocious nature of the offense.”
Defense attorney Melina Benninghoff also announced in court Friday that Corcoran State Prison has lowered Osuna’s level of care in the past few weeks.
“I am extremely concerned for his (Osuna’s) health,” Benninghoff said. “They are comprising his health. The level of care he has been receiving is based on his mental health.”
Benninghoff said she couldn’t provide any more information about the situation at this time.
The District Attorney’s Office doesn’t receive updates on the health of inmates, Esbenshade said. A representative from the Corcoran State Prison could not be reached for comment.
A pretrial conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Kings County Superior Court for Osuna’s murder and weapons charges. A preliminary hearing will be scheduled at the conference.