Archive for Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Prison escapee convicted in officer’s murder

August 22, 2001


— The leader of a murderous gang of seven escaped convicts from Texas was convicted Tuesday of killing a policeman during a Christmas Eve holdup at a sporting goods store and could get the death penalty.

A jury will begin hearing evidence today on whether George Rivas, 31, should receive a lethal injection or life in prison.

Rivas looked down and closed his eyes after hearing the verdict.

Rivas and six other inmates broke out of prison Dec. 13 and led authorities on a six-week manhunt that ended in Colorado, where the escapees were posing as missionaries.

He and the others were accused of killing Irving Police Officer Aubrey Haw-kins during a robbery of a store outside Dallas. Hawkins was shot 11 times and run over with a car before Rivas and the gang escaped with $70,000 and a cache of weapons.

Rivas was serving a life sentence for robbery and kidnapping when he escaped.

Psychiatrists have portrayed him as cold-blooded and fearless. "He has no conscience and does not speak the truth," wrote one in a 1994 report.

The gang broke out of the maximum-security Connally Unit in Kenedy after allegedly overpowering 11 employees and three inmates and making off with a prison pickup truck with 14 pistols, an automatic rifle, a shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The escapees vanished for nearly a month after the robbery until a tip led officers to a Colorado RV park, where the fugitives had told neighbors that they were missionaries.

Police captured Rivas and three others. One committed suicide and the remaining two surrendered a few days later at a motel in nearby Colorado Springs.

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