- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

LAS VEGAS (AP) - An inmate died after he was apparently beaten by a cellmate being held in a city jail pending deportation by federal immigration authorities, police said Thursday.

Guards discovered the 31-year-old inmate bloodied and unconscious under a cell mattress during an overnight head count at the North Las Vegas jail, Officer Chrissie Coon said.

The inmate was declared dead when medical staff arrived, Coon said. His name was withheld pending notification of his family.

The cellmate, Armando Munoz-Ornelas, 25, was held being for murder, police said.

North Las Vegas Police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said detectives were still trying to determine a motive for the slaying but that the victim’s facial injuries suggested the two men fought.

“It looks like this is a beating and no weapon was involved,” he said.

Bedwell said the victim had been held at the jail since March 16 on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and loitering where children may congregate. He had been scheduled to appear Friday in court.

Munoz-Ornelas had been at the jail since March 31 on a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold, Bedwell said.

Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman in Laguna Niguel, Calif., confirmed that Munoz-Ornelas was facing deportation after he was arrested by local police on criminal charges and turned over to the agency. She did not say where Munoz-Ornelas was to be sent and did not have details about his criminal history.

He was turned over to North Las Vegas police, who are investigating the slaying.

The North Las Vegas jail serves as the lockup for federal prisoners in southern Nevada under contracts with federal marshals and ICE. North Las Vegas police administer the jail, which Bedwell said housed 892 inmates Wednesday night, including 360 men and women in federal custody.

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