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Inmate convicted in fatal drive-by dies on death row [Updated]

December 21, 2010 |  3:45 pm

An inmate convicted in a 1996 drive-by shooting that killed two men has died while on death row in San Quentin State Prison, state corrections officials said Tuesday.

John Levae Post, 42, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon after being found unresponsive in his cell, according to a statement issued by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The cause of death is under investigation.

[Updated 5 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the inmate was found dead in his cell. In fact, Post was discovered unresponsive in his cell at 2:20 p.m. Monday and pronounced dead 30 minutes later.]

Post was sentenced to death in 2001 for first-degree murder in the slayings of Aaron Johnson, 17, and Larry Logan, 23, of Los Angeles.

Authorities said Post and another young man  pulled up alongside a car that had stalled near the Santa Monica Freeway and Crenshaw Boulevard in the early morning hours of Sept. 22, 1996, and opened fire, killing two of three men in the vehicle.

Johnson's 1984 Toyota Tercel apparently stalled on 10th Avenue, between West 25th Street and Adams Boulevard. While Johnson tried to restart the engine, two young men in a white Honda sedan stopped behind the vehicle, then pulled alongside it and uttered a gang challenge to Johnson and his friends.

Without waiting for a response, one of the men fired two shots into Johnson's car before speeding off. Although wounded, Johnson was able to restart the car, which went about 300 feet before crashing into a lamp post and a retaining wall.

Johnson and Logan, who was seated in the front-passenger's seat, were pronounced dead at the scene. A 26-year-old man in the backseat was unharmed.

Since capital punishment was reinstated in California, 52 condemned inmates have died from natural causes; 18 have committed suicide; 13 were executed in California; one was executed in Missouri; five have died from other causes; and one cause of death is unknown, corrections officials said.

As of Dec. 21, 2010, there were 717 offenders on California’s death row, authorities said.

-- Andrew Blankstein