California death row inmate James Odle, 71, died of natural causes Friday at a hospital outside of the prison, according to a news release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Odle was awaiting execution at Corcoran State Prison in Kings County for killing Bay Area police officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz in 1980, the department said.
He was also convicted of stabbing 19-year-old Rena Aguilar to death after abducting her from her home.
Odle was on parole from state prison at the time of the murders, according to court records.
Officer Killed While Trying to Capture Suspect
A news report at the time said that Swartz was a 10-year veteran of the Pinole Police Department and was shot in the throat while trying to capture Odle following Aguilar’s killing. He and a partner were attempting to coax Odle from a hiding spot in dense weeds behind a residential area when Swartz, who was 33, was shot with a sawed -off rifle, the report said.
Swartz was married with two children. His wife was four months pregnant at the time of his death, according to the news article.
Five hours later, Odle surrendered when a search by dozens of police flushed him out, according to the report.
Odle was sentenced to death in Contra Costa County in 1983, the corrections department said. He was also convicted of vehicle theft, assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, and for the manufacture, sale, and possession of a weapon. He received enhancements for use of a deadly weapon, being armed with a firearm, and use of a firearm.
There are currently 709 people on California’s death row, according to the department.