SANTA ANA, California – Three prison inmates have been found guilty of second-degree murder in the beating death of another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution II in Victorville, the Justice Department announced today.
A federal jury found the defendants committed the October 1, 2013, murder of a 38-year-old inmate identified in court documents as “J.S.,” who was repeatedly hit and kicked, dying because of blunt force trauma to the head.
The defendants who were found guilty late Wednesday are:
- Aurelio Patino, a.k.a. “Augie,” 39, most recently of Riverside, who at the time of the murder was serving a 16-month sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and previously was serving a 100-month sentence in a California state prison;
- Christopher Ruiz, 48, most recently of San Diego, who is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted of racketeering and methamphetamine-related charges; and
- Jose Villegas, a.k.a. “Torch,” 41, most recently of Los Angeles, who is serving a 15-year sentence in a methamphetamine case.
According to evidence presented at their six-day trial, J.S. was escorted to the recreation yard in the prison, where he was attacked. Patino, Ruiz and Villegas used their hands and feet to strike J.S. In addition to the murder charge, all three defendants pleaded guilty in November 2022 to conspiracy to commit the second-degree murder of J.S.
United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney scheduled a June 12 sentencing hearing, at which time each defendant will face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory S. Scally, Gregory W. Staples, and Faraz R. Mohammadi of the Santa Ana Branch Office are prosecuting this case.