"It was necessary to perform two rituals"
On September 6, 2005, correctional officers at Pelican Bay State prison entered one of the shared cells, and there found the body of 36-year-old Lloyd Avery II. The former Hollywood actor had been bludgeoned and strangled to death by the other occupant of the cell, Kevin Roby, who had performed what appeared to be acts of ritualistic worship with the dead body of his fellow cell mate.
The murder of Avery occurred two days prior to the discovery of his body, and there were many unanswered questions about just how the prison guards had failed to notice or realise that a gruesome murder had been perpetrated by a dangerous criminal with a sickening criminal past. The motive for the crime is equally shocking, as it appeared to be an apparent ceremonial covenant carried out by a Satanist.
Since December 1989, when the Pelican Bay State prison was opened, there had been some seventeen murders up to September 2005. In order to understand the eighteen murder, which as fate would have it turned out to be the brutal death of actor Lloyd Avery II, it is necessary to look at the life and crimes of Kevin Roby, the man who committed a senseless murder that correctional officers failed to prevent.
At the age of twenty-three, Kevin Roby, an Air Force Academy drop-out, was sentenced for the murder of a member of his own family. On January 31, 1987, detectives arrived at the home of Roby’s mother, who lived at West 37th Street in Los Angeles. They were there to question Roby about his eye-witness testimony concerning the apparent abduction of his older sister, 25-year-old Velmalin Hill.
According to Roby, Hill had been kidnapped from their mother’s home by three men dressed as Japanese Ninja warriors. He could offer very little information about the men who carried off his sister, but detectives asked him if he would walk them through the kidnapping crime scene. As he did, the detectives found his sister’s body covered with dog food in a large trash can.
With suspicion cast on his version of events, Roby was arrested. It was found that Velmalin Hill had died a particularly violent death. She had been raped twice, sodomized and strangled. Charged with murder, Roby was convicted in May 1988 at a non-jury trial by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Altman, of one count each of murder, sodomy, and two counts of rape.
He was also charged with raping another sister, and received a sentence of life in prison without parole. When Pelican Bay opened in December 1989, Roby was sent to the supermax facility, where he joined the other 40% of the inmate population who were serving life sentences for a range of violent crimes. At some point during his incarceration, Kevin Roby began taking an interest in Satanism.
This interest eventually encapsulated his beliefs, and he replaced any previous religious ideas he might have had with a firm conviction in Satan. This new religion manifested itself to such an extent that Roby would refer to himself in correspondence as Satannic Christ. His time at Pelican Bay had been without incident, however Roby was kept in a single cell to himself.
In March 2001, a new prisoner arrived at Pelican Bay, one that would have a profound affect, albeit negatively, on the Kevin Roby. 31-year-old Lloyd Avery II had been sentenced to life in prison on two counts of first degree murder. The former actor, who had starred in the hugely successful 1991 movie Boyz n the Hood, in which he had played the member of a Bloods gang responsible for an on-screen murder.
Off-screen, however, Avery had begun to associate with real-life Bloods gangsters, and soon his film career had taken second place to his new-found gang lifestyle that imitated his film roles that earned him some measure of short-lived success. Police suspect he had already committed several drive-by shootings involving rival gang members.
On July 1, 1999, Avery committed a double murder. According to police reports, at around 4:00pm, Avery approached Annette Lewis and Percy Branch, both of whom were sitting under a tree near Santa Barbara plaza. An argument ensued, allegedly over a drug debt, and Avery pulled out a .45 calibre pistol, firing it at Lewis before turning the gun on Branch, shooting him in the stomach.
Later that day Lewis died, but the mortally wounded Branch survived for another three weeks before finally succumbing to complications from his wounds. After this, Avery brazenly decided he wouldn’t go into hiding. He even film two movies, Lockdown in 2000, and Shot in 2001, in which he played the gangster G-Ride, as well as serving as a technical advisor for director Roger Roth.
He pursued his film career right up until his arrest on December 8, 1999, while at his grandmothers house near Beverly Hills. At his trial in December 2000, Avery was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Despite his gang affiliation as a committed Blood, a different Avery emerged in prison, that of a devout Christian who the other inmates nicknamed ‘Baby Jesus’.
Avery found salvation in Dennis Clark’s congregation in L.A. County jail, who had first noticed Avery in the front row during one of his services. Avery was eager to turn his life around, and was soon meeting with the chaplain in his office where they would talk daily about God. Clark said that whenever Avery committed himself to something, he went all in.
As with his acting, religion was no different, “his faith was real as any man’s faith I’ve ever known,” said Clark. With his new-found faith Avery carried his Bible, with notes scribbled in the margins, into court every day during his December 2000 trial. But it soon became apparent that this Lloyd Avery was not the one being judged, but the venerated off-screen Blood gangster, as well as the on-screen “Blood who shot Ricky”.
When Avery arrived at Pelican Bay in March 2001, he continued with his religious fervor, and even began to preach to other inmates in an attempt to convert them. For some unknown reason, correctional officers decided that Kevin Roby was to receive a cell mate, and perhaps in an act that was born out of some twisted logic, in August 2005 they chose Lloyd Avery.
Sensing an opportunity in these new living arrangements, Avery, the devout evangelical, believed he been given a quest. “I know God has him around me for a reason, he knows very well that I am a devout Christian, and I pray fore him to the Lord every day that he gives his life to God,” he wrote in a letter to Clark dated August 29.
According to prison reports, on the evening of September 4, 2005, a spiritual dispute erupted between Avery and Roby, which turned violent. Roby would later explain, “He was pushing his agenda to convert me to Christianity, which led to us fighting.” This clash ended with Roby choking a battered Avery unconscious. The vicious beating caused a large volume of blood in his lungs resulting in his death.
Roby placed Avery’s body in bed under the covers, and over the course of the following day and half, a total of eleven counts of inmates were made by correctional officers, including a standing count at 4:30pm on the Monday. During each of these counts, Avery was tallied. In the meantime, Kevin Roby ate both his own and Avery’s food rations, and spent some of that time writing a flirtatious letter to one of the former actors pen pals.
In his own recollection of the murder, Roby told prison officials he had tied a piece of string around one of Avery’s arms and tugged it to imitate movement, much like a marionette, in order to fool guards into believing he was still alive. Shortly before the Tuesday mid-day count, Roby positioned Avery’s body onto a pentagram he drew on the floor of his cell.
When correctional officers entered the cell, they found the walls were painted with Avery’s blood, as part of a Satanic ritual that Roby performed as a warning to God. He would later say, “He (God) is next on the agenda once I accomplish what I want to accomplish in this realm.” Kevin Roby was handcuffed by guards, and Avery’s body was transferred to the infirmary, where medical personnel attempted to administer CPR.
By that time his body was already decomposing, and he was pronounced dead at 12:10pm, on Tuesday, September 6, 2005. Avery’s family, including his brother Che and mother Linda doubted the official version of the circumstances surrounding Lloyd’s death. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) listed the cause of death as aspiration of blood, with blunt force trauma as a contributing factor.
The Avery family conducted a private autopsy, which stated the cause of death as blunt force trauma complicated by aspiration of blood. It also made mention of the injury to Avery’s skull, describing the 1.5-inch abrasion on his temple, as “suggestive of either a blow due to a flat surface such as a carpenter’s hammer or impact on a similar type surface.”
The mention of a carpenter’s hammer led to some, including the Avery family, to believe that it was possible Roby didn’t act alone. However, the blunt force trauma from such a weapon would be similar to the type of wounds caused by Roby banging Avery’s head on the stainless-steel sink in their cell. A later CDCR investigation found no evidence that correctional officers played any part in the death of Lloyd Avery II.
Hoping that a trial would provide more answers, the family urged local authorities to file charges against Roby. The Del Notre County district attorney refused, citing that fact that Roby had both confessed to the crimes, and was not eligible for the death penalty. The family appealed to the State Attorney General, who were inclined to agree with the local DA’s decision.
A wrongful death lawsuit was considered, but the civil rights movement NAACP and Johnnie Cochran’s law firm decided to pass on representing the Avery family. Around this time, the CDCR conducted two investigations under the supervision of the California Inspector General Office’s Bureau of Independent Review, one into the circumstances of Avery’s death, and the other on the conduct of the correctional officers.
The report was released in early 2007, and found that the correctional officers failed to follow basic procedures and guidelines, such as removing Avery’s body before photographing the crime scene, and most importantly, for failing to notice he had been dead in his cell for 38 hours before his discovery.
Following an appeal, five officers found guilty of misconduct received disciplinary actions ranging from a 5% pay cut for upwards of 45 days to a 10% pay cut for a six month period. When Linda Avery, mother of Lloyd, heard about the officer’s punishment, she said “So they just got a little tap on the hand. Crazy.”
When contacted in November 2020, the correctional officer who found Avery’s body refused to comment, saying “I have nothing to say about it, man. I’m retired. It’s no longer a part of my life.” Another correctional officer who had knowledge of the incident, and who asked to remain anonymous, said that missed counts are not uncommon.
“These [prisoners] are assholes,” he said in 2007. “These aren’t nice people. So you’re trying to get your count done, and there is one person who refuses to stand. Are you going to count him?,” he asks. “We like a quiet day. We cherish a quiet day. I know all these officers involved in this case. They didn’t do this on purpose. Was it lazy? Sure”
“Do they have absolute regret? Yes. To me, if there is any mystery here, it’s why was Roby taken from a single-cell status to being in a double? Who cleared it? Prison officials don’t clear it. That’s management.” That same year, 2007, Pelican Bay administration officials declined to answer questions concerning the matter, citing “third party confidentiality and other individual privacy concerns.”
Kevin Roby remains incarcerated, and continues to sign his letters “Satannic Christ”, believing himself, in his own words to be the prophesized killer of God, and the rightful ruler of this Universe. In letters, he has described how “it was necessary to perform two rituals,” over his body in order to fulfil some Satanic prophecy. He claims he is not a devil worshipper, but insists he is the “Christ of Darkness.”
Roby announced his plans to release a book in September 2020, which he called “The Satannic Christ: The Living Word of Darkness,” which would contain 66 chapters in 6 sections, with a page count of 999 pages, however it is unlikely that such a book would find a publisher due to his imprisonment. It appears the passage of time has not diminished Kevin Roby’s own faith in his Satanic beliefs.