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Three agencies investigating killing of correctional officer at Atwater prison

An autopsy is scheduled Tuesday for slain federal correctional officer Jose Rivera, 22, of Chowchilla, who was stabbed to death Friday by two inmates at U.S. Penitentiary Atwater.

Three government agencies are investigating Rivera's death, the Merced County Coroner's Office, the FBI and the federal Bureau of Prisons. Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, who heads the coroner's office, said the autopsy will probably be conducted Tuesday.

An out-of-the-area forensic pathologist will be brought in to conduct the autopsy to ensure a very thorough forensic review, Pazin said. The sheriff is due to meet today with prison and FBI representatives to discuss coordination of efforts in the investigation.

Efforts to reach Jesse Gonzalez, the prison's executive assistant, on Sunday for information about the names of the inmates and charges they may face, the status of the investigation or any changes in prison procedures were unsuccessful.

Rivera was taken to Mercy Medical Center Merced at 3:30 p.m. Friday and pronounced dead at 4:15 p.m., Pazin said. A Friday statement from prison officials said Rivera was assaulted by two inmates with "homemade weapons" in a housing unit.

He is the first officer to be killed at the prison, which opened in 2001 near the former Castle AFB.

Associate Editor

Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or