Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Death Row Inmate Who Murdered HS Vice Principal Found Dead In Cell

Our reporting is free for everyone, but it’s not free to make.
LAist only exists with reader support. If you're in a position to give, your donation powers our reporters and keeps us independent.


A death row inmate at San Quentin who was convicted of murdering a popular high school administrator died in prison on Thursday. Gilbert Rubio, 55, was found unconscious in his cell early Thursday morning and was pronounced dead at 6:34 a.m., the L.A. Times reports. The Marin County coroner has yet to determine how exactly Rubio died. According to Mercury News, Rubio was the only person in his cell.

Rubio was sentenced to death in September of 2000 for the 1998 murder of George Blackwell.

Blackwell, then 46, had been the vice principal at Earl Warren High School in Downey. It was a shocking crime. Blackwell was well-liked, with a reputation for counseling troubled students instead of suspending them. He had just moved into his Long Beach home where the crime occurred when, on January 12, 1998, Blackwell heard a knock on his door.

When he went to answer it, he found Monica Chavez, her boyfriend Alex Vega, and Rubio. They were not strangers. Chavez worked at the school as a janitor, and Blackwell had previously hired her and Rubio to do work on his property.

Support for LAist comes from

The trio tied Blackwell up using a dog chain and made him write a check out to them for the amount of $2,000. When Chavez and Vega left to cash the check, Rubio shot Blackwell.

Chavez and Vega are both in prison, serving life sentences. Rubio, who had a long criminal history including a three-year stint in jail for cocaine possession, was sentenced to death.

In an L.A. Times article from 1998, a neighbor who chose not to reveal her identity said she heard gunfire before her teenage daughter ran inside telling her that Blackwell had been shot. She took a towel and sprinted to her neighbor's home.

His eyes were open, but it was like he wasn't in his body. His chest was filling up with blood. I just kept holding the towel on this big hole in his chest. His shirt was burnt around the hole. I told him his body had been shot and the paramedics were on the way. Right before the police came in, he took one horrible, last, gasping breath.

There are a remaining 747 people on death row in California, according to SF Gate, but no one has been executed since 2006, when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel stopped an execution citing complaints about the lethal injection procedure. Since the death penalty was re-approved back in 1976, only 13 people have been executed. The last was Clarence Ray Allen in early 2006 via lethal injection. He was convicted of orchestrating the murders of three witnesses to a heist in Fresno.