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Archive for Sunday, November 4, 2007

Escaped inmates, ex-guard held in N.M.

November 4, 2007

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— A former guard and two inmates accused in a prison escape could be returned to Kansas before a New Mexico grand jury indicts them or a judge there bounds them over for trial.

Authorities in New Mexico, where the three were arrested, are allowed up to 10 days to file a criminal complaint, 13th Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said. They could ask for an extension if a grand jury is not convened before then, he said.

Former prison guard Amber Goff is accused of helping inmates Steven A. Ford and Jesse L. Bell escape from the El Dorado Correctional Facility last Sunday.

The three of them were arrested Wednesday in Grants, N.M.

Bell, 33, and Ford, 26, were found in an apartment complex parking lot. Goff, 23, was arrested in a vacant house's driveway a few blocks from the apartments.

An extradition hearing is expected early next week, Martinez said.

"In the meantime, we're still going to evaluate the charges," he said.

The criminal complaint filed in Cibola County in New Mexico accuses Bell of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property and fleeing and eluding police.

The complaint accuses Ford of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property, fleeing and eluding police, assault with intent to commit a violent felony upon a peace officer, and tampering with evidence.

Martinez said New Mexico authorities are reviewing evidence to see whether to charge Goff.

In Kansas, Goff is facing charges of aiding an escape and aiding a felon.

Bell and Ford have both been charged in Kansas with aggravated escape from custody.

Martinez said he plans to seek a higher bond against Bell and Ford on Monday for their New Mexico offenses.

Bell's bond is set at $25,000 and Ford's at $50,000.

Martinez said he will seek an increase to "upwards of a half-million dollars or more" in cash.

Authorities say Bell and Ford crawled through a series of fences at the El Dorado prison last Sunday night, while Goff allegedly waited for them in her car on a gravel road near the perimeter fence.

The three then allegedly drove to Augusta and swapped cars, ditching Goff's white Ford Taurus for a rented light blue Taurus before fleeing the area.

Bell, Ford and Goff were arrested after a man called 911 in the early morning hours Wednesday to report suspicious behavior in an apartment complex parking lot.

Police said they arrived to find a man they later identified as Bell trying to scale a fence.

The officers said Ford fired four shots toward them as they talked to Bell.

They said Ford threw the weapon and tried to hide between two vehicles.

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