Officials say WA prison escape attempt was planned

SEATTLE (AP) — An inmate convicted of wounding seven people in a 2005 mall rampage took a Washington corrections officer hostage with a pair of scissors Wednesday during an escape attempt that killed his partner, who tried to drive a forklift through a fence, corrections officials said.

The attempted prison break at Clallam Bay Corrections Center was carefully planned by the two high-profile inmates, Washington state deputy prison director Dan Pacholke said.

While Dominick Maldonado, 25, held the guard hostage, convicted murderer Kevin Newland grabbed the officer's keys, unlocked a chained forklift and rammed it through a rollup door, sparking the shooting.

Maldonado had followed Newland on foot with the guard in tow but released his hostage when he saw his partner killed, said Pacholke.

Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said the hostage guard suffered only minor injuries. The escape attempt lasted only about 20 minutes.

Maldonado was convicted of wounding seven people in a 2005 shooting melee at the Tacoma Mall. Newland was serving a 45-year sentence for first-degree murder in Spokane County.

The two inmates both worked as sewing machine operators in the prison garment shop, which makes offender uniforms and coveralls, Pacholke said. They would routinely have access to tools like scissors during a shift.

Each had what "looked like an escape preparation kit" sewn into their bulky jackets, Pacholke said. Woven throughout the coats were containers of peanut butter, jelly, brownies, medication and water.

Interviews with Maldonado and "a wide variety of people" revealed details of the plan, the prison official said. At this point, it appears another inmate knew about it but it wasn't immediately clear if that person was involved, Pacholke said.

The inmates planned to flee on foot into nearby woods if they succeeded in breaching the prison fences, he said, adding officials don't know how long the escape attempt had been planned.

Both the officer held hostage and the officer who killed Newland are on routine administrative leave. They were not immediately identified.

Maldonado is serving a 163-year sentence for numerous charges related to the shooting spree at the Tacoma Mall. Four people were taken hostage during the melee, which lasted for several hours and left seven people injured. The most seriously wounded victim was left partially paralyzed.

Maldonado was convicted in 2007 of 15 crimes, including attempted murder, assault and kidnapping. During his trial, Maldonado's defense argued he was in the throes of a mental disorder and shouldn't have been held responsible for the assault.

He had been at Clallam Bay Corrections Center in the Northwest corner of Washington state since 2007, in the "close custody unit," which Lewis said allows some movement of prisoners, including work time and visitors. After Wednesday's incident he was moved into the "intensive management unit," where he will most of his time in his cell, Lewis said.

Clallam Bay and the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla are the state's two highest security prisons.

Newland began his 45-year prison sentence in November 2007 after a Spokane County jury convicted him of shooting to death Jamie Lynn Drake, the roommate of a woman he was dating.

Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza told The Spokesman-Review newspaper Drake was a "nice young lady" whose family suffered greatly over her loss.

"Most crimes are stupid and senseless," Cozza said. "This was more stupid and senseless than most."

Wednesday's escape attempt was the second in Washington state in less than a month, but the first in recent memory at a high security prison, Lewis said.

On June 14, 39-year-old James Edward Russell took off from the Olympic Corrections Center, a minimum security work camp near Forks. He was caught the next day after he knocked on the door of a cabin in the woods, only to find out the man renting the lodge was an off-duty guard at the prison he just fled.