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Video: Ore. murder suspect captured after escaping from courthouse

After returning from a bathroom break, Edi Villalobos Jr. bolted out of the courtroom after officers removed his cuffs and shackles

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Law and Crime Network/YouTube

By Zane Sparling

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. — A man accused of second-degree murder bolted from a Washington County courtroom during a break in his trial Monday, spurring a frantic two-hour search of downtown Hillsboro before he was captured.

Washington County sheriff’s deputies said they caught up with Edi Villalobos Jr., 28, and arrested him without incident inside a nearby unoccupied apartment about 1:45 p.m.

Villalobos had entered the unit through an unlocked sliding door and was found hiding underneath a blanket in the closet of a child’s bedroom, sheriff’s officials said.

A resident had reported that someone was trying to break into the apartment below and deputies then contacted the unit owner and learned no one was home, authorities said.

Earlier in the day, deputies had removed Villalobos’ shackles and allowed him to change into street clothes before potential jurors were led into the courtroom for jury selection. Two deputies were assigned to guard him.

Villalobos burst from the first-floor courtroom about 11:15 a.m. after returning from a bathroom break while jurors were excused from the room, sheriff’s Sgt. Danny DiPietro said during a press conference. He outran the deputies watching him as prosecutors sat stunned at an adjacent table, attorneys said, then rushed out the courthouse’s front door.

Villalobos’ mother was sitting inside the courtroom when her son escaped, DiPietro noted.

Villalobos brushed past at least one potential juror in the hallway, shucking off his shoes and blue collared shirt while on the lam, the attorneys said. Deputies had Villalobos in view twice but eventually lost sight of him during the chase, DiPietro said.

Authorities used dogs and drones to search for him and then got the call from the apartment resident in the 300 block of Southeast Fourth Avenue.

“I wouldn’t call it a failure. We need to reassess how we do things,” DiPietro said. “Unfortunately, when it comes to removing the restraints, that’s what Oregon law requires us to do.”

The circuit courthouse was sealed and county staff were ordered to shelter in place during the breakout as were nearby residents.

Villalobos is accused of killing his stepfather — Artemio Guzman-Olvera, 35 — by repeatedly stabbing him in the neck, jaw and shoulder during an argument inside a Cornelius home on April 10, 2021.

Villalobos also faces an attempted murder charge for allegedly stabbing another man at the Carriage Estates Apartments in Wilsonville a couple of hours later.

Witnesses told investigators Villalobos smoked meth and then slashed the torso of 28-year-old Saul Antonio Ramirez Aguirre inside his apartment, according to a search warrant. Officers spotted Villalobos driving near Tigard High School, according to the warrant; he was arrested after fleeing the traffic stop on foot.

Jury selection began last Wednesday before Circuit Judge Eric Butterfield and the case was expected to go to opening statements this week. The trial has now been canceled and will be rescheduled, sheriff’s officials said.

Later Monday after Villalobos was back in the Washington County Jail, a grand jury indicted him on additional charges of second-degree escape and first-degree burglary.

Villalobos’ attorney, Robert Crow, earlier declined to comment.

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