CORCORAN, Calif. – A convicted murderer at a California state prison could face the death penalty for the brutal decapitation and mutilation of his cellmate last month.
Jaime Osuna, 31, admitted to the grisly murder of Luis Romero, 44, who was found dead the morning of March 9 in his cell at the Corcoran State Prison, according to reports obtained by KGET.
"When we arrived and looked into the cell, we immediately noticed Luis Romero had been decapitated and his body mutilated," coroner's officials said. "We removed Luis Romero's remains and transported them to the Kings County Coroner's Office for further investigation."
Kings County Prosecutor Phil Esbenshade said a weapon was found in the cell that appeared to have been manufactured from a razor with string around it.
The reports described a litany of injuries inflicted upon Romero.
WARNING: Graphic descriptions below
According to officials, Romero's spine was severed in the area of its first two segments, with the surrounding skin showing "scattered abrasions, scratches and clusters of superficial stab wounds averaging a quarter-inch in length."
Romero also reportedly had his right ear removed, and his eyes forcibly detached, with the left eye being stabbed.
The reports also described cuts to Romero's face, including "prominent lacerations" extending "laterally from the right and left side of the mouth approximately 2 1/2 inches."
Additionally, a square-shaped incision was made to Romero's left upper chest with the underlying rib section removed, as well as the left lung being removed in two parts, the reports said.
Investigators determined Romero's cause of death to be blood loss due to multiple sharp force trauma injuries.
Esbenshade told the Associated Press in an email that “we do believe that the victim was conscious during at least a portion of the time,” adding that "this is the most gruesome case that I have seen in terms of heinousness in the slaying.”
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is conducting an internal investigation into the killing, according to a department spokeswoman. It is not clear whether anyone heard the overnight assault.
On Thursday, Osuna pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, torture, mayhem and weapons possession. Officials said the charges include several special circumstances that could bring the death penalty.
Osuna was sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty in 2017 to the torture murder of Yvette Pena at a California motel.
Romero was serving a life term after being convicted of second-degree murder in Los Angeles in 1993.