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Inmates suspected in correctional officer's slaying identified

The two U.S. Penitentiary Atwater inmates suspected in the week-old killing of correctional officer Jose Rivera have been identified as James Leon Guerrero and Joseph Cabrera Sablan.

Both suspects are from Guam. One, Guerrero, was implicated in the death of a corrections officer there in 1987, though he was not convicted, KUAM-TV in Guam reported.

An official with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Lauren Horwood, confirmed the suspects' names Friday morning.

KUAM reported that both Guerrero and Sablan were sent away from Guam, a U.S. territory, because of their violent behavior at a correctional institution there. The Sun-Star couldn't reach officials with the Guam Department of Corrections to confirm that information.

Guerrero, 43, was transferred to USP Atwater on June 19, the day before Rivera was stabbed and killed at the penitentiary, said Mike Truman, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Guerrero was convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, Truman said. He was sentenced to life in federal prison.

Guerrero was implicated along with three other inmates in the 1987 stabbing death of Guam Department of Corrections Officer Douglas Mashburn, according to KUAM.

Guerrero was not convicted of any involvement in that officer's death, however. Two others were.

Sablan, 40, had been at USP Atwater since July 2005. He was convicted of murder and attempted murder in Guam in 1990, Truman said. He was also sentenced to life in prison.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, several officers at USP Atwater have said the two inmates were longtime friends.

Both have been transferred to the Bureau of Prison's Dublin, Calif. site, according to the bureau's Web site.

Horwood, of the U.S. Attorney's Office, said it's uncertain when her office might announce formal charges against Guerrero and Sablan.

Rivera, 22, had worked at USP Atwater less than a year. He died the afternoon of June 20 after he was attacked and stabbed with a homemade shank.

Rivera was the third of five children. He graduated from Le Grand High School in 2003 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after. He served four years in the military, including two tours in Iraq.

Rivera began as a correctional officer about 10 months ago. He lived with his girlfriend in Chowchilla.

His funeral is scheduled for today at 1 p.m.