Last week, two psychotic murderers became the first escapees from the maximum security prison in upstate Clinton New York, 25 miles from the Canadian border.
According to CNN, in 1997 Richard Matt kidnapped a businessman and held him for 27 hours. When the victim didn’t comply with his demands for money, Matt began to torture him. He shoved a knife sharpener in his victim’s ear, broke his neck and then dismembered the body.
And in 2002 David Sweat shot Broome County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Tarsia 22 times, then ran him over.
These two extraordinarily dangerous pieces of human garbage are still on the loose.
In 1994, two similar anti-social types became the last inmates to to escape from a maximum security federal prison, in Lompoc, California. Like many fugitives, they were drawn to Las Vegas like moths to a flame.
This pair, members of the notorious Aryan Brotherhood (“AB”) arrived in Sin City and, rather than keep allow profile, proceeded to commit a bank robbery and several car jackings, drawing considerable attention from law enforcement. Local schools were placed on lockdown during the pursuit, and considerable mayhem ensued. The priors of Rick Lee Archer and Gene DiUlio included bank robbery, kidnapping, and escape.
They were indicted, and while the case was pending, correspondence from their buddies in the AB was uncovered by jail officials. A plan to assist them in an escape from custody was discussed. This led to cell searches at the Clark County Detention Center, which leases jail space to the federal government since there is no federal holding facility in Vegas. Lo and behold, a 40 foot rope constructed of strips of of bedding sheets was discovered in a toilet tank. This upset both the Las Vegas P.D., which runs the facility, as well as the U.S. Marshall’s Service, which is responsible for transporting prisoners from jail to court and guarding them while in federal custody.
Consequently, Archer and DiUlio were moved out of Clark County to the old federal Supermax (Marion, Illinois.) During a routine x-ray at Marion two shivs and a handcuff key were discovered in Archer’s rectum. When they returned to Las Vegas for pre-trial hearings, they were considered such a high security risk that the US Marshal’s Service (“U.S.M.S.”) refused to transport them from the Clark County Detention Center, across the street, to the federal courthouse.
Their hearings were consequently conducted in a makeshift courtroom in the Clark County Detention Center. I was not the original AUSA on this case. I had observed a proceeding in Magistrate Court which caused me to conclude that it had not been properly prepared. Given the grave concerns of all involved, I had it transferred to me and recruited my old buddy and attorney par excellence Howard Zlotnick to co-chair.
The court denied a Government motion we made at the request of the U.S.M.S. to fit them in newly developed “taser suits”. If they acted out at all while wearing these, a Deputy Marshall could push a remote button and paralyze them. That motion was denied, but we gave it a shot, always trying to cooperate with our law enforcement colleagues.
By the time the trial date arrived, we had had the entire crime scene processed; prints on the bank counters and the cars, footwear impressions from the bank, the videotape of the robbery, witnesses prepped. We had large blow ups of the physical evidence on display in the courtroom so the defendants would see what they were up against. They knew they were history.
It was impossible to herd dozens of prospective jurors to the little “courtroom” that had been set up in the jail. This time the U.S.M.S. had to transport them to court. Snipers were positioned on rooftops, helicopters patrolled the skies, cops were all over the place.
While the parties waited at their respective counsel tables (which were equipped with drapes so the jury would not see the defendants’ leg shackles) for the judge to come out of chambers, one of the defendants looked over at our table and asked “which one of you used to be a cop”? I answered, why, that would be me. He then promised/threatened to visit me at home the next time they escaped. I assured them that we could enjoy cold beers at poolside in my lovely backyard together – nothing personal, you understand.
Both folded and pled before we even picked a jury. Archer was sentenced to 20 years and DiUlio to 188 months.
Postscript: Archer subsequently received an additional 8 years for attacking a guard with a homemade spear at Lewisburg. Consequently,while DiUlio is scheduled for release in 2024, Archer won’t be drinking any cold beers until 2038.
I just hope these New York guys get grabbed without any harm to innocent life.