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IN BRIEF / Los Angeles County / SHERMAN OAKS

Escaped Prisoner Found After Two-Hour Search

February 20, 2006

A handcuffed prisoner in leg shackles eluded authorities for nearly two hours before being tracked down by police dogs near the San Diego Freeway, officials said Sunday.

Richard Mudica, 33, was being driven from a state prison in Central California to Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday night when he allegedly used his handcuffs to choke the driver of a private security van.

To stop the attack, the driver crashed into a wall on the freeway near Valley Vista Boulevard, said Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department. After running off, Mudica was captured by a canine unit about 10 p.m. in front of a garage in the 4300 block of Sherman Oaks Avenue, Lopez said.

Mudica faces an escape charge but could also face charges stemming from the assault on the driver, Lopez said. The driver was treated at a hospital for injuries to his throat and skull, and then released.

Mudica, who had been held at the California Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility in Corcoran, was being taken to Michigan to testify at a trial, Lopez said.

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