Cellmate suspected in prisoner’s death

Donovan State Correctional Facility

OTAY MESA, Calif. — The death of an inmate found unconscious in his cell at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility on Christmas night is under investigation as a possible homicide, prison officials said Wednesday.

Robert Charleston, 36, was unresponsive when he was found at the Otay Mesa penitentiary shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday, corrections Lt. Jennifer Davies said.

Staff members performed CPR on Charleston prior to his transport to a public hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Tuesday evening. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Charleston’s cellmate, 42-year-old Michael LaBrunda, has been named as a suspect in the suspicious death, Davies said. He will be housed in a segregated unit pending completion of prison officials’ investigation into the fatality.

LaBrunda was sentenced in Los Angeles County in April 2012 to 50 years to life in custody for one count each of first- and second-degree murder.

Charleston was sentenced in August 2009 in the Los Angeles area to a 14-year term for resisting or deterring a peace officer with threats of violence. He had been due for parole in January 2020, Davies said.