Inmate killed at Kern Valley State Prison ID'd, suspect ID'd as cellmate

Posted at 1:30 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 19:59:22-04

Officials at Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) are investigating the death of an inmate as a homicide. 

Inmate Jason M. Christner, 39, was found unresponsive in his cell at approximately 8:01 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, 2016. KVSP staff immediately began lifesaving measures and an ambulance was called. Christner succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 8:22 p.m. His next-of-kin has been notified.

Christner was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on November 2, 2011, from Yuba County to serve a two-year sentence for burglary. Several in-custody convictions during his incarceration led to his retention and include battery on a non-prisoner, assault by a prisoner with a deadly weapon likely to cause great bodily injury and possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner. 

Prison officials have named Christner’s cellmate, Joseph D. Dorsey, 31, as a suspect. Dorsey was received by CDCR from Riverside County on September 13, 2013, to serve a 56-year-to-life sentence for first-degree murder.

Dorsey has been placed in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation by KVSP, the Kern County Coroner and the Kern County District Attorney. The Office of the Inspector General was notified.

Dorsey was also charged with murdering his girlfriend and putting her body in a suitcase in 2012.

KVSP opened in 2005 and houses 3,946 minimum-, medium-, maximum- and high-security custody inmates. KVSP offers academic classes and vocational programs and employs approximately 1,800 people. For more information, visit