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Arkansas fugitive released by NM judge after paperwork glitch

Geronimo Espericueta (Source: NMSP)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A jail escapee from Arkansas captured by New Mexico State Police last week is on the loose once again, but this time he didn’t have to break out of jail through a ceiling.

A magistrate judge set the fugitive free Monday night because a State Police officer filed the man’s paperwork in the wrong box.

State Police spokesman Dusty Francisco told the Journal that when 47-year-old Geronimo Espericueta, a federal inmate facing drug charges, was booked into Doña Ana County Detention Center, the paperwork was prepared correctly. But the officer inadvertently placed it into the District Court box instead of the Magistrate Court box. So it never reached the judge handling his case.

As a result, Doña Ana County Magistrate Court Judge Samantha Madrid ruled Monday that Espericueta couldn’t continue being detained, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Doña Ana County spokeswoman Kelly Jameson confirmed to the Sun-News that Espericueta had been released from the county detention center about 9:30 p.m. Monday. She cited Madrid’s ruling as the reason.

Francisco told the Journal State Police were not notified by the detention center or courthouse when Espericueta was released. Now Espericueta is in the wind, and State Police are working with the U.S. Marshals Service to find him again. State Police previously identified him as Geronimo Medina-Espeicuta.

Espericueta and Jason Michael Brown, 31, were captured in Hatch on Friday during a large-scale manhunt after the men escaped from Pulaski County Detention Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the day before.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service, the men broke a hatch and tore through the ceiling near the shower stalls to break out of the jail. They were then picked up by a vehicle a short distance away.

Authorities say they discovered that the men had help in their escape and were believed to be headed toward Las Cruces. The U.S. Marshals Service notified State Police to be on the lookout, and the men were pulled over in a high-risk traffic stop around 4:30 p.m. Friday and taken into custody without incident.

“The arrest of the escapees in less than 48 hours should send a message that these types of crimes will receive the full force and resources from the U.S. Marshals Service,” the Marshals Service said after the arrest.


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