California inmate sentenced to death for killing brain-injured woman dies of unknown causes

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SACRAMENTO, California — An inmate sentenced to death for killing a brain-injured woman has died of unknown causes.

San Quentin State Prison officials said Thursday that 67-year-old Raymond Edward Steele was found dead Wednesday.

Steele was sentenced to death in 1990 for fatally stabbing Leann Thurman in Shasta County in 1988.

She was in her mid-20s, but court documents say she had the skills of a 10-year-old after suffering brain damage at birth.

He previously had been convicted in 1971 of raping one victim and, separately, murdering his 15-year-old baby sitter.

Sixty-six condemned inmates have died from natural causes since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, while 14 have been executed.

The department reported last month that 67 inmates had died of natural causes, but says the number changes as deaths are reclassified.

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