Guam DOC Investigating Suspected Killer’s Escape

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Authorities cite vehicle safety features, inadequate resources

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 6, 2013) – Guam’s Department of Corrections (DOC) is investigating how a suspected killer was able to escape from a van Monday.

Keith Jermaine Garrido, 21, was captured more than an hour after he allegedly escaped from a Department of Corrections transport vehicle.

During his escape, Garrido allegedly assaulted a woman with an iron and tied her up with the cord, according to court documents. The woman remains in the hospital.

Department of Corrections Director Jose San Agustin said Monday "definitely was a disaster for DOC."

Lt. Antone Aguon, DOC spokesman, said the department is conducting an investigation into how Garrido was able to escape, but said there aren't any indications that anybody else was involved in the escape.

Aguon said the two officers who were staffing the van that was transporting the inmates and detainees Monday haven't been placed on leave but were reassigned from transport duty.

One factor that contributed to the escape was the lack of security features on the van's rear door, according to the agency.

Aguon said the van, which was purchased recently, doesn't have any "child lock," meaning passengers can open the van from the inside.

San Agustin said he wasn't sure if child safety locks were a required specification when the department procured the van, but said that will be determined in the course of the investigation.

"It should be a requirement based on the job we do," he said.

However, a recent bid invitation for a Department of Corrections van doesn't specify a requirement for child safety locks.

According to the documents attached to an invitation for bid for a 15-passenger van for DOC, there are no specifications requiring doors that can be opened only from outside the vehicle.

A lack of vehicles may also have been a contributing factor.

Aguon said it's prison policy for one Corrections officer to drive the van while another officer sits in the back to monitor the inmates and detainees.

However, due to its tight budget, the department has only one van to transport anywhere from 50 to 80 inmates and detainees each day, meaning more inmates are being transported at once.

Aguon said 15 detainees were in the van during Monday's drive and both Corrections officers were seated up front.

Aside from having only one van, he also noted that officers responsible for transporting inmates and detainees to court are also responsible for medical and dental runs, as well as meeting other transportation needs.

"A lot of officers are stretched to the limit," he said.

When Garrido allegedly escaped from the van at a traffic light, one of the officers gave chase, but was unable to catch him.

Aguon added the department has performed drills in the past to prepare for a potential escape from the van, but there haven't been any drills recently.

Garrido also was able to escape from his restraints in the vehicle.

Aguon said most detainees are only handcuffed when being transported. Only those who are considered to be a "high escape risk," such as those who have attempted escape before, are put in additional restraints.

He added Garrido was only in handcuffs while being transported.

After allegedly escaping from the van at the intersection of Route 4 and Maimai Road in Chalan Pago, Garrido ran toward the Ordot Church and then along Route 4, according to a statement he made to a detective.

He's then accused of trying to cross Route 4 before running into the jungle and giving up in an open field.

During the chase, police also found a woman, bound and beaten, running along the roadway. That woman told police that a man had entered her home and beat her before binding her with the cord from an iron.

She also had an injury in the shape of an iron on her face.

Medics took the woman to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam. Police spokesman A.J. Balajadia said yesterday the woman was in fair condition at the hospital's intensive care unit.

Garrido later told DOC personnel that he broke into the woman's home, "beat her for her car keys and then stole money from within her purse," according to Superior Court documents.

He also allegedly led officers to where he dropped the money.

Garrido was charged yesterday with first-degree robbery and kidnapping as first-degree felonies as well as burglary and aggravated assault as second-degree felonies with a special allegation of the possession and use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony.

He already faces felony murder charges in the December 2012 slaying of Barrigada resident Nancy Mafnas in her home.

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