Yesterday the United States Department of Justice declared that federal inmate James Ninete Leon Guerrero, 48, of Guam, was sentenced today to serve life in prison for the murder of United States Correctional Officer Jose Rivera. The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the Eastern District of California. The convict was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Phillip Pro of the District of Nevada.
According to documents pertaining to the case, inmate Guerrero with the assistance of the co-defendant Jose Cabrera Sablan stabbed to death Officer Rivera. The record indicates that on June 20, 2008, as Officer Rivera was on duty and carrying on his daily count in the United States Penitentiary in Atwater, California, Sablan attacked him with an eight-inch homemade shank. The records revealed that Officer Rivera tried to flee, but was knocked backwards by Sablan and tackled by Guerrero. Guerrero then held Rivera down as Sablan “stabbed him with the shank in excess of 20 times. Officer Rivera was 22 years old at the time of his death and was a United States Navy veteran.” www.justice.gov Responding staff successfully restrained both inmates and performed life-saving measures. Officer Rivera was immediately transported to the nearest local hospital, where unfortunately, he died shortly thereafter.He was a four-year veteran of the Navy, and completed two tours of active military duty in Iraq. He began his career with the Bureau as a Correctional Officer on August 5, 2007, and less than one year later was killed in the line of duty. He is survived by his mother, two sisters, and brother.
At the time of Rivera’s death, Guerrero was serving a lifetime sentence on a third-strike felony conviction for conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery in Guam, according to a transcript of the plea arrangement.
Sablan and Guerrero had been indicted for murder of Officer Rivera on Aug. 14, 2008. Co-defendant Sablan’s case is set for trial on April 6, 2015, and the government will be seeking the death penalty if he is convicted.
The Justice Department stated that the investigation was led by the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Bonnie Hannan of the Capital Case Section of the Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Duce Rice of the Eastern District of California.