Prosecutor, Challenger Battle Over Escape Charges

Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi and challenger Melina Kennedy sparred on Friday over filing additional charges against suspected criminals who are cutting off monitoring devices and disappearing.

Samuel Iraeta, 35, an accused sex offender and fugitive, specifically has become an election issue in the November race, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

"Right now, we have a criminal on the loose and he had the nerve to cut his ankle bracelet," said Kennedy, the Democratic challenger. "My point is, four months ago we (should have) started routinely sending the message that if you cut your ankle bracelet, you will have separate felony charges."


South District police arrested Iraeta in May after a month-long manhunt during which police said he might have stalked more than a dozen middle school girls. Police said they found rope and duct tape in his van.

The court cut Iraeta's bond in half about two weeks ago and placed him on global positioning system home monitoring. Officials said Iraeta cut off his monitor and escaped within two days.

The day after Iraeta went missing, Brizzi charged him with escape.

"The charges were filed after this person cut his ankle bracelet. So, that was done. Apparently, she was mistaken in that comment," Brizzi said.

If convicted, Iraeta could face more than 20 years in prison. The fact that Iraeta, who faces charges of trying to solicit sex with a minor, had his bond released shocked the officers who arrested him, Rinehart reported.

Iraeta is an undocumented worker from Honduras. Authorities said they now believe he has fled the country.

Over the past 18 months, more than 200 offenders have escaped from community corrections while out on work release or awaiting trial.

Kennedy said she would file escape charges against every escapee.

"We can use felony statutues, separate escape charges, to send the message to criminals that if they escape, we do mean business and we will have consequences," Kennedy said.

Brizzi countered that additional escape charges would only clog the system with less severe charges than those many suspects already face.

"We talk about there's not enough money to fund additional jail beds, but that is the issue here," Brizzi said. "The issue is not whether we file additional charges. The issue is keeping these guys locked up."

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