Man on death row for Pinole murders dies of natural causes

Man on death row for Pinole murders dies of natural causes
Convicted killer James Odle (left) and Pinole Police Officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz (right). (Photos credited to the Pinole Police Department)

A man on death row for the 1983 murders of two people, including a Pinole police officer, died of natural causes on Friday at age 71, according to the California Dept. of Corrections.

James Odle was sentenced to death on Aug. 12, 1983, for the first-degree murders of Rena Aguilar and Pinole Police Officer Floyd “Bernie” Swartz. 

According to detailed description of the crimes in Master Detective magazine,  Odle beat Aguilar with a tire iron and also stabbed her and strangled her, reportedly because he believed she would inform police that he had stolen a van. Several days later when police were closing in on him, Odle fatally shot Officer Swartz with a sawed-off shotgun in a backyard near Dolores Court. Odle surrendered following shootouts with officers.

In a statement about the news of Odle’s death on Monday, the Pinole Police Department recalled how the “tragic and senseless murders of Rena Aguilar and Officer Swartz shocked and devastated the community as well as the Pinole Police Department.”

“We hope Odle’s death will bring a sense of closure to the Aguilar and Swartz families,” police said.

Currently, 709 people on California’s death row, according to the state. The last execution in California occurred Jan. 17, 2006. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order instituting a moratorium on the death penalty in California.