BOISE, Idaho — Claude Dallas, the convicted killer who eluded authorities for nearly a year after fleeing the Idaho State Penitentiary in March, 1986, was acquitted Friday of escape charges.
Dallas, serving 30 years for voluntary manslaughter for killing two wardens in 1981, said he fled the prison because he feared that prison guards planned to kill him during an expected prisoner riot.
A jury of 12 returned the verdict after 5 1/2 hours. After receiving the verdict, 4th District Judge George Carey said quickly: "I won't keep you in suspense Mr. Dallas; you've been acquitted."
The statement was greeted with a gasp from Dallas supporters in the courtroom, including his mother, Jennie Dallas.
Dallas faced an additional five-year sentence if convicted.
Defense attorney Lance Churchill had argued that Dallas had no choice but to escape in the face of reports from other inmates that some guards had said they would make Dallas their first target in a riot that he believed was imminent.