St. Mary escapees captured

Two escaped inmates from St. Mary Parish, one of whom will stand trial in the Labor Day 2007 knife-slaying of his brother, were captured Tuesday by Lafayette police investigating a trespassing complaint.

Christopher Horton, 28, and Joshua Folks, 36, surrendered to arresting officers at 11 a.m., St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Traci Landry said.

Both were arrested on warrants for simple escape and criminal damage to property after their escape Sunday night from the St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center, which houses the jail.

Horton, of Bayou Vista, and Folks, of Franklin, were captured under a railroad overpass in the 300 block of North University Avenue, north of Cameron Street in Lafayette, police Cpl. Paul Mouton said.

An investigation into how they got out Sunday night “indicates that the inmates made their way into the ceiling of the facility and through the roof of the jail before making their way down a wall at approximately 10:30 p.m.,” Landry said in an statement.

Guards making their rounds at the jail at 4:30 a.m. Monday noticed the pair were missing.

It was unclear what role Folks, who was being held in the jail on a count of aggravated escape and theft, played in the escape.

After placing the jail on lock-down, jailers searched the perimeter. The local search by sheriff’s deputies grew to a daytime and overnight manhunt by local police forces, State Police and the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

Horton and Folks were considered escapees who posed a threat to the public. Police notified area schools, activated a parishwide emergency alert system and placed Horton and Folks on the National Crime Information Center.

Confronted by Lafayette police on Tuesday, they put up no fight. St. Mary Parish and Lafayette city officials have not said how Folks and Horton got to Lafayette.

Google maps shows a distance of 50 to 55 miles from Centerville to where they were caught in north Lafayette.

St. Mary officials said Horton was being held at the Centerville jail on charges of second-degree murder and arson. He is accused of stabbing to death his older brother, Adam Horton, on Sept. 3, 2007, Labor Day, then torching his brother’s vehicle.

Horton’s attorney, Bob Fuhrer, said Horton is scheduled for a hearing April 3, where Fuhrer will ask a state district judge to throw out statements Horton made in the days after his arrest. Fuhrer said the judge also would set a trial date at the hearing.

Fuhrer disputed St. Mary Parish officials statement that Horton stands charged with second-degree murder.

Fuhrer said Horton was originally charged with first-degree murder and prosecutors initially were seeking the death penalty. He said that’s why Horton’s trial was delayed for years as authorities weighed whether Horton, who has an IQ of around 70, was competent enough to stand trial and aid in his defense.

“It was a death penalty case in the beginning,” Fuhrer said.

He said the District Attorney’s Office never sought to change a grand jury’s original first-degree murder charge.

But prosecutors have removed the prospect of putting Horton to death “because (Horton’s) IQ didn’t meet the Supreme Court’s competency standards,” Fuhrer said.

With the death penalty off the table, a judge ruled Horton competent last year to stand trial, Fuhrer said.

The sentence for first-degree murder without the death penalty is the same as a second-degree murder conviction, life in prison without parole.

After his brother’s death on Sept. 3, 2007, prosecutors charged Horton along with his wife, Earline Horton, and his brother-in-law, Jimmy Allen Wright, who is Earline Horton’s brother, court records show..

According to a 1st Circuit Court of Appeal document, which contains a short narrative of the day Adam Horton was killed, Christopher Horton and Wright went to Adam Horton’s mobile home that Sept. 3 to rob him.

Wright told police “that he (Wright) was armed with a handgun, which was not loaded, and unbeknownst to him, Christopher Horton was armed with a knife (and that) they only planned to scare the victim. Later, when a struggle ensued between the victim and (Wright), Chris Horton fatally stabbed the victim in the chest,” the court document reads.

Wright was originally charged with first-degree murder and later convicted by a jury of second-degree murder. He is serving a sentence of life in prison at hard labor with no parole or suspension of sentence.

Earline Horton, meanwhile, was convicted of accessory after the fact to second-degree murder. She was sentenced to five years in prison and has since been released.

Adam Horton was 25 and a security guard for Vinson Guard Service at the time of his death, according to his obituary.