A taxi driver held hostage by three escaped inmates says the fugitives laughed gleefully as they watched TV reports about the search from the Northern California motel room where they were holed up.

Seventy-one-year-old Long Hoang Ma tells the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1S0hwkx) he was befriended by inmate Bac Duong, who served as his protector as the escapees argued over whether to kill the cab driver.

Ma was held captive for a week, driving with the inmates across the state and sleeping beside them in tiny hotel rooms.

He says Duong cried, worried that fellow fugitive Hossein Nayeri would become violent, and talked about wanting to surrender.

When Duong decided to leave the others, Ma says the escapee allowed him to sit beside him with his hands unbound during the ride back to Orange County.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/