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Prison Escapee: I Deserve To Die

The alleged leader of seven escaped Texas convicts recaptured in Colorado this week admitted killing a police officer in a Christmas robbery and expects the death penalty, according to an interview published on Thursday.

As CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher reports, escapee George Rivas told Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Darren Barbee in an exclusive interview that he believes he fired the shots in the parking lot of the Dallas sporting goods store that fatally wounded Irving, Texas police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

Rivas said he expected the death penalty. "I'm guilty. I'm prepared for it. It's what I deserve," he said.

"He said he was relieved when he was captured. I don't know if that's repentance or remorse but he said that he was relieved he was captured. The death of Officer Hawkins had been weighing on his mind," Barbee said.

Four of the six recaptured Texas prison escapees are likely to waive extradition, a sheriff's official said Thursday.

During an appearance in Teller County District Court Thursday afternoon, Rivas
went against his attorney's advice and opted for a quick return to Texas. At a separate hearing, escapee Michael Rodriguez asked a judge for more time to consider legal options. Another hearing was set Feb. 22.

The other two escapees will make their court appearance Friday.

Complete Coverage
Click on these links for more on the Texas escapees from

  • The hideout used by the men for three weeks.
  • A chronology of the hunt for the escapees.
  • A look at how the men broke out of jail in the first place.
  • Rivas, 30, a convicted kidnapper and armed robber, also told the newspaper that he also was shot in the abdomen when he wounded and then killed Hawkins during a Dec. 24 robbery, 11 days after they broke out of a south Texas prison.

    "I can't get Hawkins out of my mind," Rivas told Barbee at the Colorado jail, where the six surviving convicts were being held pending extradition to Texas to face capital murder charges for the policeman's slaying.

    One of the fugitives committed suicide when surrounded by police.

    The manhunt for the fugitives was one othe most intense since the 1930s and it ended when tipsters led police to the fugitives' hide-out in a trailer park in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Rivas and three gang members were arrested on Tuesday, one committed suicide and the last two surrendered on Wednesday in a hotel in nearby Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    Rivas said the gang was surprised when police officer Hawkins arrived in his patrol car just as they were leaving a sports store after stealing about $80,000 and a cache of weapons.

    Rivas said he screamed at the officer to put his hands up and fired two warning shots. Hawkins appeared to reach for his weapon but was hit by another shot in the left shoulder and raised his hands.

    But Rivas said he was then struck by a bullet in the abdomen from an unknown gun and responded by firing what he believed were three fatal shots into Hawkins.

    Hawkins was shot 11 times, six in the head, according to autopsy reports. The policeman's gun was not fired, police said.

    Rivas showed the reporter a fresh-looking scar.

    Five of the convicts — Rivas, Randy Halprin, Larry Harper, Joseph Garcia and Michael Anthony Rodriguez — had planned to go straight after the robbery, Rivas said.

    But the two others captured on Wednesday, Patrick Murphy Jr. and Donald Newbury, had "different approaches," Rivas said.

    Rivas said he organized the prison break and chose the other six because they wanted to start over.

    "That's the reason I hand-picked them for this. They really seemed to have repented or grieved for what they did," he said.

    "I know it sounds like hypocrisy, but several of us do love the Lord. But with 18 life sentences and no hope of coming out again, I just wanted a new life."

    Rivas said he wanted to live in Denver and work as a butcher. He said he planned to throw away most of the guns — more than 50 — that he and the others had taken and keep "one or two."

    Hawkins' death, he said, was "something that never should have happened. I just wanted to live as a normal citizen."

    The capture of the fugitives still haunts Woodland Park, Colo.

    "I try not to think about what could have been," said Randy Judd, who lives in the Coachlight RV park where the fugitives rented a space for their motor home.

    The convicts — armed robbers, murderers and rapists — played Christian music and attended Bible study. Despite their status as some of the nation's most wanted, they shopped at Safeway and patronized a local coffee shop.

    The brush with the fugitives convinced construction worker John Schnell to begin locking his doors and take other precautions.

    "I don't usually lock my doors," he said. But after word of the fugitives' presence circulated, "I had my dog in with me and my gun right by the door."

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