One of the longest-incarcerated inmates on California’s death row died in San Quentin State Prison of unknown causes this morning, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Stevie Lamar Fields, 60, had been on death row since 1979 for a crime spree in Los Angeles when he kidnapped, raped and robbed four women and killed one of them, 26-year-old Rosemary Cobbs, a student librarian at the University of Southern California.
He was discovered unresponsive in his cell at 5:38 a.m. and while life-saving measures were attempted, he was pronounced dead at 6:05 a.m. He had no cellmate.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine his cause of death. Fields had been paroled days before the crime spree started after serving a sentence for voluntary manslaughter for bludgeoning another man with a barbell.
On Sept. 27, 1978, he started the spree by holding Cobbs captive, threatening her, raping her and forcing her to write checks for him until he eventually shot her five times and killed her.
He later carjacked a Pontiac Trans Am and a couple days later used it to pick up two prostitutes along with a friend, 17-year-old William Blackwell. Fields and Blackwell took the women to Fields’ home and robbed, raped, threatened and beat them.
Eventually, he let one of them go and she contacted her sister, who called the police. Fields was arrested at a Greyhound bus station on Oct. 9, 1978. Fields was convicted of numerous felonies and sentenced to death.
Only 13 inmates have been executed since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978.
There are 750 prisoners on death row, 71 have died from natural causes, 25 have committed suicide and the cause of death has not been determined for four, including Fields.
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