An Arizona prison inmate told investigators he choked his cellmate to death, stomped his head and then bit him in the groin so he could stay in prison, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
Roberto Venegas Fernandez, 43, reportedly told detectives that he liked prison and was afraid of being released so he killed Michael Patrick McNaughton, 55, on Nov. 16. The Sheriff’s office is now asking that a first-degree murder charge be filed against Fernandez, said spokesperson Tim Gaffney.
Investigators originally investigated the death as the result of a fight between the cellmates after being housed together in the Corrections Corporation of America in Florence while awaiting their transfer to the Bureau of Prison, Gaffney said.
But Fernandez later told homicide detectives he committed the crime to ensure “he got ‘first degree’ murder.”
“Roberto wanted to find a way to stay in jail, so while the victim was sitting on his bed, he choked him until he fell onto the ground, then on his head and continued to choke the victim until he was presumed dead,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said.
Fernandez, from Mexico, originally committed a sex crime in the U.S. and was sent to prison.
“Now as he is approaching his release from prison and would be deported back to Mexico, he brutally murdered a U.S. citizen to ensure that he’s not deported,” Babeu said.