Court Documents Reveal Details Of James Morales’ Brazen Escape

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBS) – Newly released court documents reveal that James Morales was unaccounted for over a period of several hours before guards at a Rhode Island detention center realized he had escaped.

Morales, who escaped on New Year’s Eve from Wyatt Correctional Facility in Central Falls and was recaptured Thursday after five days on the run, briefly appeared before a federal judge on Friday in Providence.

Morales waived his right to a preliminary hearing and was ordered held in federal custody. Prosecutors argued that given the recent incidents involving Morales, he should be considered a flight risk.

Authorities did not say where Morales will be detained, but U.S. Marshals said he will not return to the facility where he previously escaped.

A recreation yard at Wyatt Correctional Facility, the jail James Morales escaped from on New Year's Eve. (WBZ-TV)

A recreation yard at Wyatt Correctional Facility, the jail James Morales escaped from on New Year’s Eve. (WBZ-TV)

According to court documents released on Friday, video shows Morales walking alone into a recreational yard at Wyatt Correctional Facility around 4:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. About two hours later he can be seen standing on top of a basketball hoop.

Prison officials say Morales then used a tool to cut through fencing, climbed onto the detention center’s roof and went through multiple layers of razor wire before climbing down the side of the building and running from the area.

Court documents revealed that 3 hours and 43 minutes after Morales escaped, an officer noted that “all of his detainees were accounted for.” The officer did not notice Morales was not there until he performed a second check around 10:30 p.m.

Surveillance footage showed Morales running on the railroad tracks nearby. Where the tracks meet Interstate 95, Morales’ prison clothes were found.

Trooper Joseph Merrick walks James Morales out of Medford barracks, Jan. 5, 2017. (WBZ-TV)

Trooper Joseph Merrick walks James Morales out of Medford barracks, Jan. 5, 2017. (WBZ-TV)

Morales remained on the run until Thursday, when he was caught after attempted bank robberies in Cambridge and Somerville.

Before his escape, the former Army reservist was in the detention center on charges that he stole weapons from a Worcester armory in 2015. He is also accused of raping an 8-year-old girl in Cambridge.

Five days after Morales’ escape, police said he was suspected in a Thursday morning bank robbery in Cambridge.

He then allegedly attempted to rob a bank in Somerville later in the day. After a foot chase with a Massachusetts State Police trooper, Morales was taken into custody.

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