Oakdale homicide suspect found dead in jail

pguerra@modbee.comJanuary 17, 2013 

— A 26-year-old Oakdale man accused in the November shooting death of two people died in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail on Thursday, authorities said.

Ryan Neil Mazzariello, 26, was alone in his cell about 8:40 a.m. Thursday when jail staff found him unresponsive, said Sgt. Anthony Bejaran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies and jail medical staff tried to save his life but were unsuccessful and he was was pronounced dead, Bejaran said. Authorities did not yet know how Mazzariello died.

Bejaran said homicide detectives were called to the downtown jail to investigate. They said there were no signs of foul play, no use of force or any signs of an altercation with jail staff or inmates.

He said Mazzariello was alive in the morning when deputies made their routine inmate checks. He did not know what time that occurred. As with most homicide suspects, Mazzariello was in a one-man cell.

An autopsy was performed Thursday afternoon. The cause of death is pending toxicology reports, which are expected back in four to six weeks.

Mazzariello's mother, Tammy, said she spoke with her son Wednesday night, then stayed up all night working on his case. She learned what had happened when Mazzariello's wife, Rachel, called Thursday and told her that Ryan had died in custody.

"I couldn't see him in jail," Tammy Mazzariello said, adding that she had some criminal history and hadn't been cleared for a visit. "The last time I saw him was the day it happened."

On that Sunday evening in November, an Oakdale police officer was near the market at 311 E. I St. at 9:05 p.m. and heard gunfire, Bejaran said.

The officer found numerous people in the parking lot, including the two victims on the ground. Emergency crews took Abel Calderon, 20, of Oakdale to a hospital, where he later died from his injuries. Ruben Mora Jr., 15, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Also at the scene were were Mazzariello's vehicle and a rifle.

After talking to witnesses, officers determined Mazzariello was a suspect and went to a home to which they were told he fled after the shooting. After a brief discussion with officers, he surrendered and was taken into custody.

In December, he pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the shootings. He had been scheduled to return to court Feb. 20 for a pretrial hearing.

Tammy Mazzariello said Thursday that her son, a member of the Army National Guard, had some medical and mental health problems, and she didn't believe he was responsible for the deaths. She said her son had been diagnosed with ADHD in his childhood and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He was such a nice person," she said, crying. "He was so nice, it was annoying. … He wasn't a bad person. He would give you the shirt off his back."

Family and friends of Mazzariello previously said he felt tormented and gang members had threatened him and his family over the past year.

Elias Arrellano, Mora's uncle, attended one of Mazzariello's hearings. He said then that he had no indication his nephew and Calderon were gang members or affiliated with gangs, and that he had heard Mora went to the market to get a soda.

He said then his heart went out to Mazzariello's family, calling the situation "a sad thing all around."

Bee Senior Editor for Digital Brian Clark contributed to this report.

Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at (209) 578-2343 or pguerra@modbee.com.

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