WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. – A criminal defendant accused of murder bolted from a courtroom during pretrial proceedings last month thanks to an Oregon law that required his unshackling, according to reports.
Edi Villalobos, 28, is charged with slaying Artemio Guzman-Olvera, 33, on April 10, 2021, as well as the stabbing of a second man who was left in critical condition. As jury selection was about to begin on February 27, 2023, Villalobos fled from the Washington County Courthouse once court officers removed restraints, KGW reported.
Security cameras at the facility show two officers escorting Villalobos into the courtroom before sitting him down in a chair and removing both his leg shackles and handcuffs, according to OutKick. This is accomplished due to a state law that requires all accused persons to be unrestrained while the jury is present in order to avoid prejudice.
“Those were removed because of Oregon law,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Communications Sergeant Danny DiPietro. “When someone’s in a trial, and any of the proceedings that goes along with it, including jury selection, Oregon law requires us to remove those restraints, and we did that, obviously.”
@HillsboroPolice and deputies are activly searching for Edi Villalobos. Villalobos was in the Washington County Court House for a trial related numerous charges, including murder in the second degree, when he ran out. If you see Villalobos, call 911, do not approach him pic.twitter.com/zVRciGS3yQ
— Washington County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon) (@WCSOOregon) February 27, 2023
Once Villalobos was unrestrained, he wasted no time and made a mad dash from the courtroom. He completed his escape by running through the first-floor hallways and out a staff-only entrance of the courthouse, as two deputies unsuccessfully gave chase, the New York Post reported.
WATCH VIDEO OF EDI VILLALOBOS’ ESCAPE
Authorities searched two-hours for the escaped inmate. On two occasions, police caught a glimpse of Villalobos, each resulting in foot pursuits, but he managed to elude law enforcement on both occasions, according to KGW.
Sheriff’s deputies locked down the local area and searched for Villalobos using drones, K9 units, and the assistance of two local police departments, according to a press release.
Finally, police received information from a resident at a local apartment complex regarding a man attempting to break into a door. About 1:45 p.m. they found Villalobos hiding beneath a blanket inside an empty apartment. He was returned to the Washington County Jail once he was captured.
As a result of Villalobos’ escape, he will have several charges tacked onto the murder and related charges he was already facing.
It was unclear when his trial will get underway and whether he will remain restrained as a result of his escape.
“I imagine they’re going to push for the hearing to allow restraints to be on during his trial when it comes up,” DePietro said. “But that is for the courts, the DA’s office, and court security to go through that process.”