San Joaquin County judge overturns death sentence

local@modbee.comJune 11, 2013 

— A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge on Monday unexpectedly overturned a jury's decision to send a man to death row for killing a prison cellmate, the second time he'd killed a cellmate.

John Joseph Lydon, 40, was serving a 69-years-to-life term at Deuel Vocational Institution for having previously murdered a cellmate when he strangled another man at the Tracy prison in 2010.

A jury's decision would have made Lydon the first person to be sentenced to death in four years in San Joaquin County.

Judge Terrence Van Oss instead commuted his sentence Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, taking into account the effects Lydon's abusive childhood has had on his development.

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