Officials: Escapee was being held on murder charge

A Roosevelt County inmate accused of escaping from a work detail Wednesday by hitting a county employee with an ax was being held on first-degree murder charges, officials said today.

Senovio Mendoza, 32, was captured a few hours after his escape in Sudan, Texas.

He is accused in the 2012 slaying of Artesia resident Tim Wallace. He was awaiting a second trial in the case after a jury was unable to reach a verdict in February, according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus newspaper.

Roosevelt County officials have said Mendoza was on a “work detail” at the Roosevelt County fairgrounds when he attacked a county employee and escaped in the employee’s vehicle.

Officials did not immediately explain why Mendoza was allowed outside the detention facility.

A news release from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office reported the county employee was treated and released from Roosevelt General Hospital.

District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Mendoza was being held in Portales for officials in Eddy County. The Carlsbad newspaper reported Mendoza was convicted on charges of breaking and entering, aggravated burglary and evidence tampering during his February trial but jurors were hung on the murder allegation. A hearing was scheduled this month in the case, according to nmcourts.com.

Portales police provided some information about the escape on Wednesday, but county officials did not confirm until today. Chief Deputy Malin Parker said he could not confirm or deny any incident had taken place.

Here is the press release from the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office issued this afternoon:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The attempted escape of a Roosevelt County Detention Center inmate from an outside work detail has left a Roosevelt County employee injured. Senovio Mendoza Jr. (32) and another inmate being housed in the Roosevelt County Detention Center were doing grounds keeping work at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds on 07/02/2014 when Mendoza struck the county employee, who was watching them, in the head with a pick axe. It was reported that Mendoza then tied the employees hands and feet with Duct Tape, stole his keys and wallet and fled the scene in the employees personal vehicle. It was further reported that the second inmate, who had went to use the restroom, returned and heard the employee calling for help, located him and freed him. Information regarding the escape was relayed to the Sheriff’s Office who began responding to the scene. While in route to the scene information was received that the vehicle had been spotted by Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Webb, who had also been notified of the incident, on New Mexico State Road 202 traveling toward Texas. Webb and her husband began following the vehicle and relaying information to responding units. Texas law enforcement was notified and a Deputy with the Bailey County Sheriff’s Office intercepted the vehicle near Muleshoe, Texas. A vehicle pursuit ensued between Mendoza and the deputy which continued through Muleshoe, involving additional officers from the Muleshoe Police Department. The pursuit ended approximately twelve miles east of Muleshoe near Sudan, Texas where Mendoza was arrested and taken into custody without further incident. Mendoza is being held in Texas on Texas criminal charges in connection with the pursuit. Deputies with the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene and processed the vehicle for evidence purposes.

The investigation into this incident is on-going, however, the following has been obtained.
• The Roosevelt County Detention Center was holding Mendoza for the Eddy County Detention Center.

• The county employee received medical treatment at Roosevelt General Hospital and has been released.

According to Chief Deputy Malin Parker the investigation is on-going. “Deputies are continuing to interview the individuals involved and following leads. We will be working closely with the District Attorney’s Office with regards to charges in this matter.”

Questions with regards to the housing of Mendoza in the Roosevelt County Detention Center should be directed to Detention Administrator David Casanova.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Chief Deputy Malin Parker
Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office
Office: (575) 356-4408