Nevada Prison Director Ron Angelone said Tuesday an Ely State Prison inmate strangled and stabbed to death in his cell last month had been warned by officials of a rumor that other convicts wanted to attack him.

But Angelone told the Nevada Appeal that the Aug. 20 death of Joseph Beeson, 20, of Orem, Utah, wasn't due to organized gang activity at the maximum-security prison.Beeson was serving a double life term for the killing of a 23-year-old Las Vegas newlywed working at a convenience store. His companion, Edward Bennett, got the death sentence for the murder of Michelle Moore.

Angelone said guards didn't follow proper procedures and electronically opened the door to Beeson's cell, letting in two inmates who are the chief suspects in the slaying.

The prison director said the guards apparently thought the cell they were opening was for one of the two inmates who had been in a day room and asked to return to their cells.

A prison inmate wrote to Gov. Bob Miller recently, alleging the killing was carried out by a gang known as the Aryan Circle, a spin-off of the Aryan Warriors gang that terrorized the Nevada State Prison here a decade ago.

Inmate MacArthur Smith claimed prison administrators know the gang exists. He also said Beeson was denied protective custody and was about to return to the prison's general population area.

Smith also wrote the Nevada Appeal and said Beeson incurred the wrath of the Aryan Circle because he refused to join the gang.