By Sharna_Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Convicted killer Edward Salas was due to be transferred to the state’s Department of Corrections intake facility in Los Lunas, one day after he escaped from the Curry County jail, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.
Salas was among a group of eight inmates who escaped on Sunday night. He remained at large on Tuesday night.
Chandler said Salas may have known the transfer was pending, but would not have known the exact day; as a matter of security, inmates are not told when they will be transferred.
Convicted of first-degree murder in April for the 2005 shooting death of 10-year-old Carlos Perez, Salas was sentenced July 15 to a minimum of 68 years imprisonment.
But it took almost a month to issue an order to transport Salas to the DoC, court records show.
A judgment, sentence and commitment order filed Aug. 14 in district court directed the Curry County Sheriff’s Department to transfer Salas to begin serving his sentence with the DoC.
Chandler said the court delivered the order to the sheriff’s office Aug. 20 and arrangements were made to transport the 21-year-old on Monday, the day after the escape.
Chandler said the order was initially signed in his office and faxed to Albuquerque-based public defender Stephen McIlwain on July 22.
After telephone calls and e-mails seeking return of the order so it could be signed by District Judge Teddy Hartley, Chandler said McIlwain signed it and sent it back Aug. 11.
McIlwain said the order he received had to go back to the district attorney’s office for revisions in language after he received it. He was also delayed in returning it because he was traveling out of town for court hearings, he said. McIlwain said it is not uncommon for paperwork in criminal proceedings to experience delays and take time to process.
“I don’t think it was particularly anybody’s fault. This language that had to be cleaned up was fairly simple and I was gone for quite a bit of time,” he said.
At the time his sentence was imposed by Hartley, Salas became an inmate of the DoC and therefore is charged with escape from a penitentiary, conspiracy to escape from a penitentiary and criminal damage over $1,000.
He faces an additional 16 years imprisonment if convicted, Chandler said.
McIlwain said he was surprised to hear of the escape.
“He had some confidence that we would win some issues (on appeal),” McIlwain said.