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Home Intruder May Have Been Prison Fugitive

November 29, 1998| From Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The search for an inmate who escaped from death row shifted Saturday night to a town east of the prison, where a homeowner fired shots at an intruder in his home.

"We consider it a very solid lead," Texas prison spokesman Larry Fitzgerald said late Saturday.

A homeowner fired at a man who fit the description of fugitive Martin E. Gurule, Fitzgerald said.

"He ran into the underbrush into a wooded area," Fitzgerald said. "We don't know whether it was a hit or not, but the guy did take off and run."

The sighting, in Riverside about four miles east of the prison, prompted an immediate response from authorities.

"We do have dog teams down there, and the DPS [Department of Public Safety] helicopter is there," Fitzgerald said.

Police using boats, horses, dogs and helicopters kept up a methodical search for the death row inmate, who escaped Friday amid a hail of gunfire from prison guards' rifles.

Meanwhile, authorities were reviewing security camera videotapes for clues to how Gurule scaled two fences trimmed with razor wire, one of which also was equipped with motion detectors.

Internal affairs investigators also were trying to learn how Gurule made his break from the Ellis I prison with six other death row inmates, who were quickly recaptured.

Five hundred police officers, prison guards, sheriff's deputies and state troopers combed a heavily wooded area in the southeastern quarter of the 11,672-acre prison grounds.

Gurule, 29, killed the owner and a cook at a Corpus Christi restaurant during a robbery in 1992.

He lost an appeal almost a year ago, but no execution date had been set.

Inside the prison, all of the nearly 2,200 inmates were on "locked down" status, confined to their cells most of the time.

"They're not getting any visitation. Everybody is suffering some penalty for this escape," Fitzgerald said.

Most Texas death row inmates are "locked down," receiving only one hour of recreation time a day.

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