Inmate sentenced to life term for cellmate’s grisly death at Delano prison

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An inmate at a Delano prison who said he tortured and killed his cellmate for refusing to stop talking about a rape was sentenced Tuesday to a life term in prison. 

Travis Smoot was sentenced to 16 years to life after being convicted of second-degree murder in the gruesome death of Larry Thomas Hite at Kern Valley State prison, court records show. 

Correctional officers found Smoot, 28, standing near the door of his cell in the early morning of Dec. 1, 2015, according to prosecutors. A white sheet had been hung blocking a view of the interior of the cell. 

When officers went inside, they found Hite dead on the floor, his hands and feet hogtied with torn sheets, prosecutors said. Both of his ears were punctured — his left ear with a pencil, the right with a pen — and he’d been impaled with a walking cane.

A District Attorney’s office release said Smoot told officers the following: “Hite and I were up all night drinking coffee and Hite was telling me about a rape he did not get convicted for. I told him to stop or I would (expletive) kill him.

“Hite wouldn’t stop so I tortured Hite all night and killed him around 4 this morning.”

Smoot said he strangled his cellmate, according to prosecutors. 

Hite was sentenced to prison in July 2015 after a San Bernardino jury convicted him of murder in the 1986 killing of a 28-year-old woman. 

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