Escape trial begins for former inmate
Published: June 27, 2012
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ST. CROIX - Opening statements and testimony began Tuesday for Raphael Parilla, who is charged with escaping from the custody of police last year by jumping out of a moving V.I. Police vehicle.
Jurors were selected to begin hearing the case in V.I. Superior Court Presiding Judge Darryl Donohue's courtroom on Monday.
Parilla faces charges of escape from custody, aggravated assault and battery, third-degree assault, disturbance of the peace by threats, destruction of property and possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime of violence.
Parilla was arrested by police on June 21, 2011, on a charge of attempted murder. As he was being transported from the Rainbow Building to Golden Grove Adult Correctional facility, he said that he did not want to go back to jail, according to prosecutors.
As the unmarked police vehicle continued heading toward the prison, Parilla became loud and belligerent and said he would rather die before he went back to jail, according to police.
As the vehicle turned off of Melvin Evans Highway and onto East Airport Road, Parilla opened the door of the moving police sport utility vehicle, according to Assistant Attorney General Cornelius Evans. And, despite being shackled by handcuffs, Parilla jumped anyway, Evans said.
Detective Jeffrey Nesbitt jumped from the car behind him.
As Nesbitt struggled with Parilla on the ground, Parilla kicked him in the leg, Evans said. Nesbitt's partner, Detective Marisol Colon Irrizary, came to render assistance, according to Evans.
"Parilla was handcuffed, but he was not being subdued, and as he wrestled with them, he got a hold of Detective Irrizary's gun," Evans said. Parilla pointed the gun at Irrizary's side at close range and cursed and threatened to shoot her as she also held on to the gun, according to Evans.
Passing motorists saw the commotion and called 911, and within minutes, other officers arrived at the scene to give assistance, Evans said.
Defense Attorney Kye Walker told the jurors that during the trial, they will hear two different stories, but they must remember that the government is the one with the burden to prove.
"He sits here cloaked in a robe of innocence, and that alone should be good enough to find him not guilty," she said.
She urged the jurors to listen to what is being said on the witness stand, and also to listen to what is not being said.
Walker said that after detectives picked up her client, they beat him repeatedly about his body. The officers needed a way to cover up for the bruises Parilla sustained, so they fabricated the story that he jumped from the vehicle to explain his injuries, Walker said.
At the time of the escape, Parilla had recently been released from prison when investigations into a fight months earlier revealed that he was involved.
During the fight, one inmate was stabbed, and a warrant was issued for Parilla's arrest on a charge of attempted murder.
The attempted murder case later was dismissed, and Parilla remains charged with assault after witnesses said he repeatedly punched the victim during the fight.
The trial is expected to be brief and could be completed by the end of today.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.