An accused Oregon murderer fled cops and busted out of a courthouse in a daring escape during his pretrial last month.
Edi Villalobos, 28, who was charged in the 2021 slaying of 33-year-old Artemio Guzman-Olvera, fled the Washington County Courthouse during the jury selection process on February 27.
Security cameras inside Oregon’s Washington County Courthouse caught two officers escorting Villalobos into the courtroom before sitting him down in a chair, removing both his leg shackles and handcuffs.
State law requires all accused persons to be unshackled from their restraints while in front of a jury so the restraints do not taint the jurors’ decision.
“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.”
It took a matter of seconds for Villalobos to return to his criminal ways.
He quickly stood up and darted for the door in the back of the room, racing through the first-floor hallways and out a staff-only entrance of the courthouse, as two deputies chased after him.
A two-hour manhunt ensued for Villalobos, forcing a shelter-in-place message to be sent out to the local residents.
Police had caught glimpse of Villalobos twice, each resulting in foot pursuits, but he was able to get away both times, according to NBC affiliate KGW.
Sheriff’s deputies searched for the man with the help of drones, K-9 units, and two local police departments, according to a press release.
Law enforcement was tipped by a resident of an apartment complex about a man attempting to break into a door and found Villalobos hiding under a blanket inside an empty apartment at around 1:45 PM.
Villalobos was scheduled to stand trial in early March for the fatal stabbing Guzman-Olvera on April 10, 2021, and a second stabbing that left another man in critical condition, according to KGW.
He has also been accused of critically stabbing a second, unrelated man later in the day.
Villalobos who was facing several charges including second-degree murder, and unlawful use of a weapon will have several others tacked on for his daring escape from court including escape in the second degree and another burglary charge.
No jurors were in the courtroom at the time of the escape, and Villalobos was returned back to Washington County jail following his arrest and will be awaiting the restart of his trial.
It is unclear if Villalobos will be restrained when the jury reconvenes, as the Oregon law still stands.
“I imagine their 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.”