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Orange County DA finds no criminal negligence in suicide of man suspected in homeless killings

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SANTA ANA, California — Orange County investigators found no evidence of criminal negligence after a suspected serial killer died by ingesting cleaning chemicals inside his jail cell, the district attorney's office said Thursday.

Itzcoatl Ocampo, 25, was monitored frequently inside the jail due to his history of suicidal intentions but was allowed to transfer from a suicide-watch module after showing good behavior, the office said in a letter to the sheriff's department.

There, the former Marine was allowed to receive a small amount of solution to clean his cell.

"It would be unreasonable under the totality of the circumstances to conclude that anybody acted in a criminally negligent manner when Ocampo was allowed to receive the small quantities of cleaning solution, just like all the other inmates in the area where he was housed," Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons wrote in the letter.

Ocampo was found shaking and vomiting in his jail cell in November 2013, with a small milk carton containing what appeared to be a cleaning powder used in the jail, authorities said. He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead the next day.

Ocampo had been charged with stabbing to death four homeless men in a killing spree in 2011 and 2012, and a high school friend's mother and brother.

Ocampo's defense attorney, Michael Molfetta, questioned whether placing his client in an area where he could access a toxic cleaner was a prudent decision in light of the allegations he faced.

"I think you still have to keep all that in mind and say, 'Wait a minute, maybe this is a guy we want to keep our eye on,'" Molfetta said. "It wasn't the smartest way to handle that type of inmate."

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