J.C.X. Simon, a member of the so-called Zebra Killers who was convicted of killing white San Franciscans in the 1970s, has died in prison, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 69.
He was found unresponsive in his one-man cell and pronounced dead at San Quentin State Prison in California at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, according to Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials. An announcement of the cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy.
On March 30, 1976, Simon began serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after he was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, writes the news outlet.
He was sentenced alongside three other men, who were also given life terms. Fourteen people were killed and at least seven were wounded in what came to be known as "San Francisco's longest criminal trial," with 174 witnesses testifying, the Times writes.
The men were reportedly members of an offshoot of the Fruit of Islam—the Nation of Islam’s security arm—known as the Death Angels, who were all black. According to the Times, the random killings of whites occurred between 1973 and 1976, and the name “Zebra Killers” emerged as a result of the police radio channel used to try to identify and capture them.
The police manhunt for the suspects resulted in unchecked racial profiling of black men throughout the city, prompting the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against the department. U.S. District Judge Alfonso Zirpoli agreed. He argued in his ruling “that although the stops might be ‘logical and practical,’ they constituted illegal ‘deprivation of another's constitutional rights,’” the Times writes.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.