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Escapee Is Found Guilty in Absentia

January 28, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles man who escaped from the downtown Criminal Courts Building on Jan. 17 was convicted in absentia Monday of child endangerment and spousal abuse, but acquitted of kidnapping, attorneys said.

Arturo Navarro, 25, faces more than 14 years in state prison when he is sentenced Feb. 24. Jurors reached verdicts in the case after a weeklong trial that continued despite Navarro's absence. Once caught, Navarro could be charged with escape and face additional time behind bars, authorities said.

Sheriff's deputies launched a manhunt for Navarro when he failed to appear for jury selection at his trial after being transported to the courthouse from a county jail facility. Detectives believe he fled through a garage door after he got off a sheriff's bus at the courthouse. The bus was carrying Navarro and 31 other inmates from the Pitchess Detention Center in Saugus.

Det. Robert Barrios said Monday that he is continuing to interview family members, friends and fellow inmates in the search for Navarro.

Authorities had charged Navarro with hitting his ex-wife repeatedly and kidnapping his 5-year-old son.

His attorney, Rene Sanz, said he was thankful that the jury considered all the evidence and didn't just "throw the book" at Navarro because of his escape.

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