One of the escaped killers from the Daggett County Jail will have a decision to make today: go back to Utah to face the music, or stay and fight extradition?
Juan Diaz-Arevalo is scheduled to appear before a circuit court judge in Green River, Wyo., this morning for an extradition hearing. Court clerks said it is expected to be a brief hearing he will either waive extradition or fight it, in which case a governor's warrant would be sought to return him to Utah.
For now, he is being held in the Sweetwater County Jail in Rock Springs.
Prosecutors on both sides of the border are expected to pile charges on Diaz-Arevalo and Danny Gallegos in connection with last week's escape, the kidnapping of retired police officer Bill Johnson, the theft of his SUV, Saturday night's chase and officer-involved shooting that led to their capture.
Criminal charges of second-degree felony escape already have been filed in Manila's 8th District Court against Diaz, 27, and Gallegos, 49. Attempts to reach the Daggett County attorney for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah is also considering federal charges against the two men.
In a maze of court procedure and bureaucracy, once Gallegos is well enough to leave the hospital, he will be taken back to Wyoming for a hearing, and ultimately back to Utah. He remains listed in critical condition at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, where he is recovering from a gunshot wound.
On the run
Backtracking the trail of the two killers who escaped from the Daggett County Jail, authorities have learned more about how the men stayed on the run.
Police recovered a tent, a sleeping bag, a camouflage jacket, a fanny pack, a canteen and five bottles of Gatorade that were taken from a hunting camp in the mountains here along the Utah-Wyoming border. The Sweetwater County (Wyo.) Sheriff's Office said the hunter reported the burglary on Friday, giving authorities a new clue that Gallegos and Diaz-Arevalo were still in the area.
"It's one of the many factors that were dialed into the investigation," Sweetwater County Sheriff's detective Dick Blust said Monday.
It also gave investigators an idea of how the men were staying on the run. On Saturday, the men broke into a trailer and spied on a 79-year-old man who was spending the weekend in his tiny camper-trailer nearby in a remote part of Daggett County about 14 miles from the jail.
Police said Diaz and Gallegos waited until the man left on his 4-wheeler, then broke into his trailer and ambushed him when he returned. They tied him up, stole some camping supplies and his SUV, fleeing toward Rock Springs, Wyo.
Bill Johnson, a retired Salt Lake City police officer, managed to free himself and get help. A short time later, a Sweetwater County Sheriff's deputy spotted the stolen Ford Explorer and, after a chase, the men were captured. Gallegos was shot as he turned toward police with a rifle in his hands. Diaz dropped a gun and ran but was quickly tackled.
The items stolen from the hunting camp were found in the SUV, Blust said.
The Utah Department of Corrections is wrapping up its investigation into security lapses at the Daggett County Jail that allowed Diaz-Arevalo and Gallegos to escape.
"I feel like it was a good review," corrections director Tom Patterson said Monday. "We are making some immediate changes. ... We have some that will need to be done over a sustained period."
Corrections officials have told the Deseret Morning News there was a lack of staff (one deputy on duty the day of the escape was sick), policy violations and technical problems (reports of security cameras not working and an unlocked door).
The deputy who was on duty has quit his job. The Utah Department of Corrections said it is still investigating whether the men had help escaping, either from jail staffers or other inmates.
Patterson said he plans to meet with Daggett County Sheriff Rick Ellsworth to go over the investigation. He also plans to offer support services from the Utah Department of Corrections.
Daggett County officials did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday, but Ellsworth has said he would implement some of the recommended security changes.
Gallegos was serving time for the murder of Tammy Snydergaard, 18. He shot her in the back of the head while hiding in the apartment of his ex-girlfriend.Diaz-Arevalo shot and killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Lindsey Fawson, in May 2005 as she sat in her car. Her young son was in the backseat.