Nevada inmate dies in apparent suicide

An inmate died in a suspected suicide Sunday, according to the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Jonathan Van Hook, 40, was found in his cell at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs. Staff tried to resuscitate him, but he was pronounced dead. His death is being investigated as a suicide.

In October, Van Hook was sentenced to 10 years to life, with an additional five to 20 years, after pleading guilty but mentally ill to second-degree murder of a person over the age of 60.

The sentencing came after a multi-year competency court battle and three trips to Lakes Crossing, Nevada’s mental health facility in Sparks.

Van Hook, 6-feet-2-inches and nearly 250 pounds, was described as a bipolar manic depressive who must be forcibly medicated to quell violent behavior.

Las Vegas police went to Van Hook’s east valley home in 2009 after a neighbor reported that he was walking around with blood on him. Officers found the man’s landlord, 62-year-old Morteza Mostafavi-Kashani, in a pool of blood near Van Hook’s laundry area. Police said Mostafavi-Kashani’s dentures were out of his mouth and laying on the ground near him.

Prosecutors said that Van Hook broke the man’s ribs, split open his liver and caused brain hemorrhaging all with his fists.

Van Hook initially pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2011, but later changed his plea as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Reporter Annalise Little contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Cassandra Taloma at or 702-383-0381.


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