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Fri 6:44pm: Lawyer: Ajax killed suspect in homeless slayings

November 29, 2013
The Associated Press , Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com

SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California man who was awaiting trial on murder charges in the deaths of six people, including four homeless men, died after ingesting Ajax in his jail cell, his lawyer said today.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, 25, apparently accumulated the cleaning product over time while in custody, said his attorney, Michael Molfetta, who was briefed on the death. The incident raises serious questions about how well Orange County jail deputies were supervising Ocampo, who had mental health issues, Molfetta said.

Ocampo, a former Marine, was found shaking and vomiting in his single-man cell Wednesday and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead Thursday afternoon, said Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

No cause of death was immediately given, and officials said an autopsy will be performed in the coming days. The Orange County district attorney's office will investigate the death and autopsy results by an independent pathologist are expected by the middle of next week, Hallock said.

"If you spend three minutes with Ocampo, you are acutely aware of the fact that he has some mental issues. They were severe and they were obvious and they definitely were not contrived," Molfetta said. "With that being said, this was a guy who should have garnered the highest level of scrutiny ... and it wasn't done."

Hallock declined to comment on inmate supervision or the attorney's account except to say jail deputies are required, in general, to walk by each inmate's cell a minimum of once an hour.

"We always want to prove the case in court and have justice for the victims' families," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney's chief of staff.

Marie Middaugh, mother of victim Lloyd "Jimmy" Middaugh, said in a phone interview today that she was relieved to hear the news of Ocampo's death.

"A trial wouldn't have brought our loved ones back," she said. "I'm sorry things happened the way it did for his family because I know they're grieving, too, but I'm just glad that really it's all over."

Someone at a number listed for Ocampo's father hung up repeatedly when a reporter called today.

Prosecutors alleged that Ocampo, a native of Mexico, stabbed four homeless men in what they called a serial thrill-kill rampage in late 2011 and early 2012. Ocampo targeted his homeless victims because they were vulnerable and because he felt they were a blight on the community, authorities said.

 
 
 

 

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