Inmates In Texas Prison Break Recaptured

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 7:21 am
By: News On 6

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Two inmates classified as minimum security prisoners bolted from a work detail after wresting weapons from a pair of guards, trading gunfire with officers, stealing a truck and running down a guard who was on horseback, killing her.

The inmates in Monday's incident _ one in prison for murder, the other for attempted murder _ had been assigned to do field work outside the prison under the supervision of officers. They were allowed to do the work because of their good disciplinary records.

``In this case, obviously, something went wrong,'' said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.

The prisoners ditched the stolen truck and carjacked another vehicle. One inmate was apprehended within an hour. The second was caught hiding in a tree about 3 1/2 hours later, after a manhunt that included a police helicopter, lawmen on horseback, and bloodhounds.

John Ray Falk, 40, the first inmate caught, began serving a life sentence for murder in 1986. Jerry Martin, 37, who began serving a 50-year attempted murder sentence in 1997, was found hiding in a tree. He had stripped to his boxer shorts in a futile attempt to prevent dogs from detecting his scent, Lyons said.

Authorities said the men will be charged at least with felony escape. It has not been determined yet what charges they will face in the death of the officer.

Martin and Falk were among 76 inmates working in a garden outside the Wynne Unit prison just north of Huntsville Monday morning. They were being guarded by six officers, Lyons said.

At about 10:10 a.m. in the field along Interstate 45, one of the two inmates approached officer Susan Canfield to ask her to hold what officials believed was a watch, Lyons said. When Canfield, on horseback, reached for the object, a struggle ensued and the inmate got her weapon. The second inmate was able to get another officer's weapon, Lyons said.

The two inmates exchanged gunfire with officers, stole a city truck from a nearby parking area and ran over Canfield as she tried to stop them, Lyons said. It was not clear who was driving the truck.

Canfield, 59, had been a corrections officer for seven years, Lyons said.

The Wynne Unit, established in 1883, is one of the oldest in the Texas prison system. It holds about 2,600 inmates of various custody levels. The unit is about 80 miles north of Houston and shares about 1,500 acres with two other prisons that straddle the main freeway between Houston and Dallas.

In another escape, authorities in Utah on Monday searched with dogs and helicopters for two convicted killers who jumped the fence at a county jail near the Utah-Wyoming line.

Danny Martin Gallegos, 49, and Juan Carlos Diaz-Arevelo, 27, escaped Sunday from the Daggett County jail, about 120 miles east of Salt Lake City, said Jack Ford, a spokesman for the Utah Department of Corrections. He said the men were discovered missing during an inmate count at 8 p.m. _ six hours after they were last seen at the jail.

``Both men are considered dangerous. Do not approach,'' the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Gallegos was convicted of aggravated murder in 1991. Diaz-Arevelo was convicted of murder and child abuse in 2006. Because of overcrowding, the two men had been transferred to the jail from the state prison, Ford said.

Investigators were pursuing tips along the Wasatch Front, the mountain range hugging Utah's largest cities, the sheriff's office said.

In north Georgia, a search ended for three inmates who escaped Sunday night from Fannin County Jail in Blue Ridge, authorities said. They were all in custody by Monday afternoon, Trooper Larry Schnall said.