Sandoval County takes responsibility for prison escape

Blake McPherson & Paul Garcia
Blake McPherson & Paul Garcia

BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE)– Sandoval County representatives say two separate investigations into last month’s Detention Center escape revealed the same two issues – how the inmate was classified and a lack of supervision.

“We are confident we know exactly what happened,” said Sandoval County Spokesperson Sidney Hill.

Hills says it was a serious incident that never should have happened.

Two men – 21-year-old Blake McPherson and 25-year-old Paul Garcia – escaped from the Sandoval County Detention Center through a recreation yard fence.

McPherson was in for auto theft and weapons charges, but Garcia is accused of murder. He and Elexus Groves are charged in the deadly crash that killed 14-year-old Shaylee Boling and her mother, Shaunna.

The problem is, Hill says the officers who booked Garcia had no idea.

“There was some information from Bernalillo County that showed some irregularities that should have been followed up on,” said Hill.

Hill says Garcia was transferred to Sandoval on misdemeanor mail theft charges out of Placitas.

Because they didn’t know why Garcia was in MDC in Albuquerque, Hill says he was placed in a minimum security unit.

“When someone comes into our facility, it’s our responsibility to find the information we need to classify them properly,” Hill explained.

That’s not the only factor that led to Garcia’s escape. Hill says staff also failed to watch over inmates in the recreation area.

Hill says Garcia and McPherson likely spent a few days gradually kicking a hole through the fence to make their escape.

“It appears they were working on trying to compromise the structure of that fencing for quite some time,” said Hill.

That recreation area is closed until workers can guarantee it’s secure again.

Sandoval County says booking officers are now going through refresher training on how to properly classify inmates and ensure they’re not facing charges somewhere else.

Officials say they’re confident Garcia and McPherson didn’t have any help from staff or other inmates to make their escape.

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