Accused escapees won't have charges dismissed

SURRENDER: In this file photo, Department of Corrections officers walk Johnnie Del Rosario and Johnny Borja Atalig to a DOC van after the two men surrendered in October 2019. Contributed photo

Two inmates at the Department of Corrections accused of escaping from the halfway house were denied their request to dismiss the charges handed down in an indictment against them.

Defendants Johnny Atalig and Johnnie Del Rosario were indicted on a charge of felony escape as a third-degree felony.

Both defendants argue they did not break the law because they were not being housed in a detention facility at the time of the alleged escape.

The pair were accused of escaping from the Mangilao compound's halfway house in October 2019.

The two contend that a halfway house does not qualify as a detention facility, adding that there was no evidence presented to a grand jury that the defendants "intended to permanently leave the halfway house, as in an escape."

Superior Court of Guam Judge Maria Cenzon, however, ruled that "although the halfway house granted defendants a greater amount of freedom throughout the day, they were nevertheless still under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. ... The very nature in which defendants fled the halfway house is indicative of the extent of the halfway house's detaining character."

The cases for the pair have since been severed, which means they will be tried separately.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

12 hours at large

In October 2019, a corrections officer conducting a head count reported the men missing from the facility.

Court documents state the men went to Del Rosario's girlfriend's house. Del Rosario later contacted authorities to surrender. Both men were arrested after being at large for about 12 hours.

Atalig was being held on a 2014 burglary conviction.

Del Rosario was being held on 2009 theft of property and 2010 second-degree robbery convictions. He had escaped twice before from the prison, in 1993 and 1998, while being held in other cases.

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