A death row inmate convicted of murdering a high school vice principal during a home-invasion robbery nearly 20 years ago in Long Beach died Thursday at San Quentin State Prison.
Gilbert Rubio, 55, was found unresponsive during a security check of his individual cell that morning, and was pronounced dead at 6:34AM by paramedics who had been summoned to the scene, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The Marin County coroner will determine the cause of death, authorities stated.
Rubio was sentenced to death in September 2000 for fatally shooting 46-year-old George Blackwell after robbing him and burglarizing his home, located in the Bluff Park area of Long Beach, on January 12, 1998. Rubio had been on death row since September 27, 2000, according to the department of corrections.
He was additionally convicted of other robbery and burglary charges involving other victims between November 1997 and January 1998.
Rubio was awaiting a hearing before the California Supreme Court on an automatic appeal of his conviction and death sentence.
Alex Freddy Vega, 61 and Monica Mary Chavez, 59, two others who were found guilty of Blackwell's murder, are serving life-without-parole at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran and the Central California Women's Facility, respectively.
Chavez worked as a janitor at Earl Warren High School in Downey, where Blackwell served as vice principal. According to Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph the two were friends.
Chavez and Rubio went to Blackwell's home, pretending to celebrate their engagement, then let Vega inside to assist in the robbery of the victim, according to the prosecutor.
Chavez and Vega went to a bank to cash a $2,000 check Blackwell had written, while Rubio shot the vice principal after the two had left, according to Randolph.
City News Service contributed to this report.
Photo courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.