Texas Prisoner Explains His Escape

Monday, February 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — The mastermind of the Texas prison breakout says he planned the escape with six other maximum-security inmates because he couldn't bear to remain locked up any longer.

``There's a saying in the prison,'' George Rivas said in an interviewed aired by CBS' ''60 Minutes'' on Sunday. ``It goes: 'I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.' I got to that point. You know, I didn't want to die an old man in prison is what it comes down to. But take away hope from men, you give 'em an initiative and they are practically unstoppable.''

Rivas put his plan to escape from the Connally Unit into action shortly before noon on Dec. 13 in the prison maintenance shop where the seven worked. The inmates skipped lunch and volunteered to wax the floors in the shop, then overpowered prison workers as they returned from lunch.

In the interview, Rivas told of taking joy in simple things after the escape, like buying soda and a newspaper.

Rivas repeated in the interview from the Teller County Jail in Colorado that he should be executed for killing police officer Aubrey Hawkins during a Christmas Eve robbery of a sporting goods store in Irving, Texas.

Rivas said he would take responsibility for the killing of Hawkins, who was shot 11 times after arriving at the store.

``I know I fired into the vehicle three times,'' he said. ''... Whether I fired the lethal round that did kill Mr. Hawkins or not, I did initiate it. I am at fault and I do take full responsibility for it.''

On Jan. 22, authorities captured Rivas and four other fugitives in a trailer park at Woodland Park, Colo. One fugitive killed himself rather than surrender. The last two fugitives surrendered at a Colorado Springs motel on Jan. 24.

All are charged in Texas with capital murder. Rivas was returned to Texas last week. The five others remain in Colorado, pending extradition.