John Booth-El

John Booth-El, seen in this April 2001 file photo, died Sunday morning at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, according to a state corrections spokesperson. Booth-El, 60, was one of five death row inmates in Maryland. (Bo Rader, Baltimore Sun / February 17, 2006)

A man who spent more than two decades on death row was found dead in his cell at North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland Sunday morning, a state corrections spokesman said.

Corrections staff at the prison found John Booth-El, 60, unresponsive not long after an officer had spoken with him earlier in the morning, according to Mark Vernarelli, the spokesman. Booth was pronounced dead shortly afterward, despite attempts to revive him, Vernarelli said.

The death appears to have been from natural causes, Vernarelli said. The State Medical Examiner will make an official determination after an autopsy.

Booth-El was housed in a single cell, like other inmates with death sentences, Vernarelli said.

Booth-El had been on death row since he was convicted in 1990 of fatally stabbing his neighbors, Irvin and Rose Bronstein, during a robbery of their Northwest Baltimore home in May 1983. His death sentence has been overturned three times, only to be reimposed.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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