Metro Weekly

California inmate sentenced to death for killing his transgender cellmate

Miguel Crespo allegedly warned correctional officers he'd kill his cellmate if forced to room with a transgender inmate

Prison corridor – Photo: Matthew Ansley, via Unsplash.

A California inmate has been sentenced to death for killing his cellmate after they had lived together for only eight hours because she was transgender.

In 2013, Miguel Crespo was serving a life sentence at Kern Valley State Prison for a murder stemming from a 1993 shooting in Los Angeles, during which Crespo fired into occupied vehicle, killing one person and severely injuring another.

At one point, Crespo was paired with Carmen Guerrero, a transgender female being housed in a men’s prison, after her previous cellmate and romantic partner, Jonathan Wilson, was transferred to another prison. Wilson claims that just before he was transferred, he tried to request that corrections officials place Guerrero with a cellmate who would be “nice” to her, “but the CO didn’t want to,” according to The Guardian.

Wilson claimed that Crespo had told the CO on duty that he would kill Guerrero if he was forced to bunk with her. But prison officials placed the two together, at which point Crespo tied Guerrero up, gagged her, tortured her, and choked her to death.

He then informed correctional officers that he’d killed his cellmate.

Before court proceedings began, Crespo claimed he killed Guerrero because she was transgender. He insisted that he had warned prison officials that he was not compatible with the victim because he’s not gay, and shouldn’t have been placed with a transgender cellmate, according to Bakersfield-area NBC affiliate KGET.

A jury eventually found Crespo guilty of first-degree murder and assault by a life prisoner, and recommended that he be sentenced to death.

At sentencing on Thursday, Crespo balked at having to pay a victim restitution fine, insisting he did not have the money to pay the fine and asking Judge John Oglesby to waive it. Instead, the judge imposed the minimum fine of $300, rather than the maximum fine of $10,000.

“Three hundred is fine judge,” Crespo said, laughing.

Read more:

Arizona appeals court: Judge was wrong to reject transgender man’s name change

Trans youth suicides? “Cry me a river,” says Indiana school board member

Transgender sex worker kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint in the Bronx

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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