Inmate on Death Row for SoCal Murder, Bank Robberies Dies at Hospital

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Death row inmate John Abel, 75, pictured in an undated photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Death row inmate John Abel, 75, pictured in an undated photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

A man condemned to death for a murder in Tustin, which took place amid a string of bank robberies in Orange and Los Angeles counties, died Saturday at a hospital, authorities said.

John Abel, 75, died at 10:25 a.m. at a hospital,  according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

“His cause of death is unknown pending the results of an autopsy; however, foul play is not suspected,” officials said in a written statement.

Abel was first sent to prison in 1992 for a string of bank robberies in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

While serving time for the robberies, he was identified as the gunman in the deadly Jan. 4, 1991, point-blank shooting of a man who had just withdrawn $20,000 from a bank in Tustin, according to the CDCR. He was subsequently convicted of the killing.

“An Orange County jury sentenced Abel to death on Sept. 26, 1997, for first-degree murder during the commission of a robbery and lying in wait,” the statement said.

There are 728 inmates on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison.

“Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 82 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 27 have committed suicide, 13 were executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 14 have died from other causes and seven – including Abel – are pending a cause of death,” the CDCR statement said.

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