The prison's oldest inmate, Heber J. Norton, 81, has died of natural causes, Deputy Warden Tom House said.

During an hourly check at 4:55 a.m. Wednesday, an officer saw Norton "in a sleeping position on his bunk" and became concerned that he wasn't breathing.A preliminary review indicated he died of natural causes, House said.

Norton was incarcerated at age 71 on Feb. 4, 1980, after being convicted Feb. 28, 1979, in Carbon County of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery. He was convicted of the robbery, along with Bernice Crosby Craig, 45, of the Huntington Branch of the Zions First National Bank, where two tellers were shot.

Originally, he was under a death sentence, but that was overturned on Feb. 13, 1985, because of a Utah Supreme Court decision that errors were committed during the penalty phase of his trial. Seventh District Judge Boyd Bunnell commuted Norton's sentence instead of seeking a second death penalty, based on Norton's poor health and the emotional health of the victims' families.

Medical authorities in 1985 said Norton's life expectancy was less than five years, as he was suffering from renal failure, chronic congestive heart failure and advanced syphilis.

He was housed in the North Point Prison Complex under medium-security supervision, House said.