H-CENTRAL VALLEY

Jan 17, 2013 5:37 PM by The Associated Press

Fresno inmate dead, murder appears gang-related

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is looking into the death of an inmate inside the county jail.

Officials said 20-year-old Joe Anthony Rodriguez was found unconscious in his cell Wednesday night during a routine inmate count. He later died at a local hospital after suffering severe head and body trauma.

Detectives believe Rodriguez's killing was gang-related as his death occurred in a pod with 47 other inmates. He was in custody on a murder charge stemming from a fatal stabbing of a 16-year-old boy in 2011.

Rodriguez's lawyer, Gerald Schwab, told the Fresno Bee that his client told a judge on Tuesday that he would testify on his own behalf.

Schwab says Rodriguez was going to testify that he acted in self-defense, but believes that others in the courtroom feared that he would testify against other gang members.

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