Juvie escapee arrested in Texas

September 18, 2008 4:36:19 PM PDT
An 18-year-old suspected murderer who escaped from the San Mateo County Youth Services Center on Valentine's Day was wanted on burglary charges when he was found and arrested in Texas Wednesday night, according to local police.

Josue Raul Orozco, 18, a member of the Sureno gang, is the youngest person to be charged as an adult for murder in San Mateo County.

Orozco, who was 17 at the time of the escape, was playing basketball with two other inmates around 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 14 when he scaled a high wall surrounding the athletic area.

Orozco had the two inmates help push him up toward the top of the recreation yard wall, where he grabbed onto a light fixture and pushed aside cloth netting to let himself over the wall and out of the yard. From there, he slid through a hole that had been cut in the chain-link fence and escaped.

Orozco was found shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday in San Antonio, Texas by the San Antonio Police Department Tactical Response/Gang Unit, the sheriff's office reported.

A report released by the San Antonio police describes an incident in which an officer received information that Orozco was in the area and is an escapee from San Mateo County.

The officer apparently went to a location listed for Orozco and saw his vehicle next to a building. During surveillance, the officer spotted Orozco and confirmed his identity after sending another officer to walk past Orozco and get "a good look at him," the report states.

Orozco was then arrested without incident and booked into the Bexar County jail as Jesus Contreras, the alias he has been using in Texas, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Officers confirmed Orozco's identity using fingerprints, and discovered that Orozco had several active warrants from the Bexar County Sheriff's Office, including a warrant for falsely identifying himself and two warrants for burglary with force, the police report states.

Orozco remained in the Bexar County jail this morning.

San Mateo County sheriff Lt. Ray Lunny said he is not sure if Orozco will go to court for charges he faces in Texas before being extradited back to California.

"He has got some legal issues down there," Lunny said. "We will be discussing that with them. He may end up going through his court appearances and such down there before he gets extradited back to California."

"We are anxious to get him back," Lunny added.

Orozco was the first inmate in 16 years to escape from the Youth Services Center.

He and co-defendant Faustino Ayala, 24, were charged with murder and participating in a criminal street gang in connection with the death of 21-year-old Francisco Rodriguez in Redwood City on July 12, 2005. Prosecutors allege that Orozco shot Rodriguez and that Ayala was driving the car. Orozco was 14 at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors said Rodriguez was a former Norteno gang member, targeted by rival Sureno assailants.

Ayala was found guilty June 23 of second-degree murder with the special allegation the murder was committed and a firearm used for gang purposes.

Vanher Cho and Martin Villa Patino, both 18, were charged in San Mateo County Superior Court for helping Orozco break free.

Cho pleaded no contest April 9 to charges of aiding in the escape of Orozco, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. He was sentenced in June to one year in county jail and five years of supervised probation.

Patino is scheduled to return to court Oct. 17 to set a date for a jury trial to begin.

The Board of Supervisors voted in February to retain an outside consultant to investigate Orozco's escape, and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency issued a 19-page report in June that found the escape was the result of an ill-prepared staff and an opportune physical layout for an escape.

San Mateo County Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress said today the probation department has been heavily involved in the search for Orozco and improvements to the Youth Services Center since the teen's escape.

"We are very, very pleased he is back in custody," Buddress said.

"I am quite sure (Orozco) will remain in custody during the adjudication of his charges here in San Mateo County," he added.

Buddress said the Probation Department worked closely with the Sheriff's Office during the investigation to find Orozco, offering the $10,000 reward in the case. He also pointed out changes to the Youth Services Center that have already been made and are in the works.

"We are working with the County Manager's Office and the Board of Supervisors on potential staffing issues, but we have used our current staff to maximize the safety and security of the youth who are currently in the center," Buddress said.

Other policies and procedures at the center have been enhanced, including a telephone alert to neighbors as soon as an inmate is reported missing. The service was requested by residents who live nearby the facility at 400 Edmonds Road just outside of San Carlos City limits, Buddress said.


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