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N.M. Jail Takes Hours to Report Escape

July 5, 2003

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) _ An escape by four inmates _ including two charged with murder _ went unreported for hours Friday until an escapee injured in the jailbreak went to a hospital, police said.

The other three inmates _ including the murder suspects _ remained at large Friday. Angry law enforcement officials were looking not only for the fugitives, but also for answers why it took them until the afternoon to learn of the escape, which occurred about 9 a.m.

``We in law enforcement are totally disgusted, and it’s disheartening,″ sheriff’s Deputy Ron Williams said.

Cody Graham, warden of the jail operated by Management Training Corp., indicated he would make a statement on the escape Friday night, Williams said.

The inmates escaped by leaping three floors from the jail’s rooftop exercise enclosure. One of the inmates hitched a ride to a hospital to get treated for his injuries, and hospital officials called police because they weren’t satisfied with his explanation.

The fugitives included Robert Kiro, who was supposed to face trial Aug. 11 in connection with the killing of a Gallup police officer; Eric Leyba, a teenager accused of beating a Gallup man to death in 2002; and Alejandro Balderama, who had been held on charges of shooting at a dwelling.

``An escape of this magnitude does lead to the suspicion that there could have been outside help,″ Williams said.

Gallup is about 120 miles northwest of Albuquerque.

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