PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released security footage of a murder suspect’s escape from the Washington County Courthouse during jury selection for his trial on Feb. 27.
Edi Villalobos, 28, was set to stand trial for allegedly stabbing two people and killing one of them in April 2021, according to WCSO. He faces several charges including second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.
Officials say the jury was out of the room on a break when Villalobos was taken to the bathroom just before he fled.
Per Oregon law, all of the suspect’s restraints, such as handcuffs and leg shackles, were removed while in the courtroom for the trial.
Danny DiPietro of Washington County Sheriff’s Office said the restraints were placed back on Villalobos during the bathroom break but taken off afterward – leading the suspect to bolt out of the first-floor courtroom and out of the front door.
Deputies searched for the suspect with help from drones, K-9 units and the Hillsboro Police Department. Area residents were asked to shelter in place.
After getting tipped off by a neighbor, officials say they found Villalobos hiding under a blanket in an empty apartment he had forced his way into near Southeast 4th Avenue. He will now face new charges stemming from the escape, DiPietro said.
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When asked if this was a failure on the authorities’ end, DiPietro said no — but it means they should “reassess things.”
“What took place here and evaluation [of the] the actual circumstances in this incident — it could change things,” DiPietro said. “We’re always looking to do better, we can look back at this.”