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Jury Says Rifle Escapee Forced To Flee

May 18, 1988

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A convicted embezzler has been acquitted on an escape charge after convincing a jury he fled a prison camp to avoid becoming a drug courier.

A Garfield County jury accepted Robert D. Tate’s defense that he fled after two other inmates threatened him unless he smuggled contraband into the minimum-security prison.

The jury took 3 1/2 hours Friday to acquit Tate, 42, who escaped from the Rifle Correctional Facility.

″I was under a lot of pressure there,″ Tate said. ″I was forced to leave.″

Deputy District Attorney Ken Jaynes argued that the duress defense requires that a person surrender to authorities immediately upon reaching safety.

Six days after the escape, police apprehended Tate in Las Vegas, Nev.

Tate was sent to prison in Canon City to complete the embezzlement sentence. He pleaded guilty in 1980 to embezzling more than $93,000 from a company he had started.

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