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Do you ever feel like our legal system these days has more laws to protect criminals than it does to protect the public? An Oregon state law requires that a defendant’s shackles be removed when in front of the jury to ensure that “restraints do not taint the jurors’ decision.”
What could go wrong?
Well, things went very wrong when Sheriff’s deputies removed the shackles from suspected murderer Edi Villalobos, who promptly fled the courtroom and spurred a two-hour manhunt before he was caught hiding under a blanket in the closet of a vacant apartment.
Things get wild around the 1:25 mark. Watch:
The video is pretty funny in some ways, as there’s a Keystone Cops aspect to things as heavyset police officers chase after the suspect, bumping into furniture and getting left in the dust by his superior speed.
However, things get less funny when Villalobos, who’s suspected of violently murdering his stepfather, encounters civilians in the hallways in his bid for freedom. Any one of them could have been attacked or run into and seriously injured.
Another interesting thing about the footage is the apparent nonchalance of some of those civilians in the hallway— one guy in what appears to be a suit and tie just ambles along with indifference as if he sees wild-eyed suspects galloping down the corridors with cops chasing them every day.
Seconds later, however, in another corridor apparently, a woman appears to be absolutely terrified and frozen to the spot as the suspect barrels toward her. She’s lucky she didn’t get smacked by the fleeing suspect.
Washington County Sheriff’s Communications Sgt. Danny DiPietro claimed sheriffs’ hands were tied regarding removing the shackles:
Those were removed because of Oregon law.
When someone’s in a trial, and any of the proceedings that goes along with it, including jury selection, Oregon law requires us to remove those restraints, and we did that, obviously.
Although the escape happened on February 27, the footage was only released Thursday. The eventual jury might not see shackles when the trial resumes, but the face tattoo might affect their thinking (this tweet was posted when he was still on the run):
@HillsboroPolice and deputies are activly searching for Edi Villalobos. Villalobos was in the Washington County Court House for a trial related numerous charges, including murder in the second degree, when he ran out. If you see Villalobos, call 911, do not approach him pic.twitter.com/zVRciGS3yQ
— Washington County Sheriff’s Office (Oregon) (@WCSOOregon) February 27, 2023
Laws like Oregon’s endanger the public. If the allegations are true, Villalobos is one nasty character indeed:
The suspect is accused of killing his stepfather, Artemio Guzman-Olvera, 35, by repeatedly stabbing him in the neck, jaw and shoulder during an alleged argument reported to have taken place in a Cornelius home on April 10, 2021, as well as the attempted murder of another man who was allegedly stabbed at the Carriage Estates Apartments in Wilsonville hours after the incident involving Guzman-Olvera.
The people in the hallway could have been killed or injured by this guy, and Villalobos broke into someone’s apartment to hide–luckily it was vacant or the occupant(s) likely would have been killed.
I get that you don’t want to taint the jury—but why not shackle him to a table or something and then make it invisible to the jurors with a tablecloth? You simply can’t give a man suspected of vicious violent acts the ability to strike out at anyone within spitting distance, or the ability to escape.
More and more, it seems like our justice system favors criminals at the expense of we the citizens.
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