SAN QUENTIN (CBS SF) — A 49-year-old San Quentin death row inmate, sentenced to be executed for the horrific 1996 kidnap and torture-murder of former child actor Anthony Guest Jr., has been found dead in his cell, authorities said.
San Quentin officials said Spencer Brasure was discovered unresponsive in his cell on death row at 12:49 a.m. Thursday. Attempts were made to revive him but he was pronounced dead at 1:17 a.m.
The cause of death would be determined by an autopsy.
A Ventura County jury sentenced Brasure to death on August 24, 1998 for first-degree murder. According to the court, Brasure kidnapped and tortured Guest, a former child actor, before setting him on fire and killing him.
Brasure and co-defendant Billy Davis kidnapped Guest at gunpoint on Sept. 7, 1996 from his family’s Hawthorne home. During the trial, witnesses reportedly testified that Brasure and Davis decided to kidnap Guest and beat him as a favor to Sandra Johnson, a friend who had ended a relationship with the victim.
Prosecutors said the pair stole a van, placed Guest in the back, drive him to a remote campground near Gorman, where they burned him alive.
In addition to murder, Brasure was found guilty of torture, kidnapping, arson, conspiracy, grand theft and three counts of threatening a witness. In a separate trial, a jury found Davis guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
Since 1978, when California reinstated capital punishment, 82 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 27 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, one was executed in Missouri, one was executed in Virginia, 14 have died from other causes and three – including Brasure – are pending a cause of death. There are currently 731 offenders on California’s death row.