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L.A. cop killer found dead in his death row cell at San Quentin

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 4/23/2019 Colleen Shalby
a man wearing a white shirt © California Department of Corrections

The killer of a California police officer has died after being found unresponsive in his cell at San Quentin State Prison.

Miguel Magallon, 35, died Saturday despite emergency measures. An autopsy will be conducted, corrections officials said Monday.

Magallon was sentenced to death on Oct. 15, 2009, for the Aug. 10, 2004, murder of Capt. Michael Sparkes Sr. of the Los Angeles County Office of Public Safety.

Prosecutors in the case said Sparkes, 53, was taking his regular predawn bike ride in a neighborhood near his Compton home when Magallon, then 26, stepped out of a vehicle and tried to rob him. He shot the officer multiple times with an AK-47 before fleeing to a waiting car.

Sparkes was able to call 911 on his cellphone and report, “Officer down.” But before help could arrive, Magallon returned with another man and shot Sparkes again.

The officer was shot a total of nine times but managed to fire several rounds at Magallon, including one that struck his killer.

The 30-year-veteran of the Los Angeles County police force died at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the hospital where he supervised security.

Magallon was convicted of first-degree murder and second-degree robbery. Judge Kathleen Kennedy called the crime a “coldblooded killing.”

“Is the defendant a predator? I think he is a predator,” she said. “It is clear that Capt. Sparkes was a completely innocent victim and any one of us could have found ourselves in that position on that fateful morning.”

Convicted getaway driver Orvis Camillo Anthony, then 24, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.


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