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INMATE CONVICTED OF KILLING CELLMATE.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

LANCASTER - A prison inmate has been convicted of strangling his cellmate but the jury couldn't reach a decision on whether he attempted to murder a guard by trying to shove him off a second-floor walkway.

Frank Perez, 31, who was serving a 12-year sentence for carjacking when he was accused of the two crimes, now faces an additional 25 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder conviction.

``It was a pretty brutal slaying,'' Deputy District Attorney Fred Mesropi said.

Antelope Valley Superior Court jurors deliberated about three hours before convicting Perez Tuesday in the September 2004 death of Eddie Arraiga, 27.

The jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of guilty on the attempted murder charge, officials said. Perez was accused of trying in April 2005 to push the officer over a second-story railing with a 12- to 15-foot drop.

A sentencing date will be set on Friday for Perez. Perez's attorney declined to comment on the verdict.

Perez was charged with using a bedsheet to strangle Arraiga.

Perez admitted killing Arraiga, officials said, but gave differing explanations. He has said he was ordered to kill Arraiga for the Mexican Mafia and, alternately, that the victim had poor hygiene.

Arraiga was serving a five-year sentence for second-degree robbery and was scheduled to be released in July 2004, prison officials said.

Perez and Arraiga were in the prison's administrative segregation unit for inmates who are disciplinary problems, could be in danger among the general prison population, or other reasons. Both were undergoing psychological treatment.

Arraiga was put in administrative segregation after he destroyed another inmate's television set, prison officials said. Prison officials didn't say why Perez was in the segregation unit.

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 2, 2006
Words:294
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