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Lt. Skip Arms Holds News Briefing on Surrender of Last Two Texas Prison Escapees

Aired January 24, 2001 - 5:45 a.m. ET


JASON CARROLL, CNN ANCHOR: We are getting word from our affiliate KKTV right there in Colorado Springs that the two men are about to give themselves up. We're going to some of their live coverage now and listen in.

ERIC SINGER, KKTV ANCHOR: We have ended the situation here. The hostage -- the situation negotiating ended peacefully without violence. No one was hurt. Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy are both in custody as per their agreement with the negotiating team. They did as they said they would and they ended the situation peacefully without weapons -- Jeff, Kimberly.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That was Eric Singer, the anchorman for KKTV in Colorado Springs, who did just a remarkable job with his set up and his letting these two escapees from the Texas prison system make their statements. He had some questions for them. It was a fascinating...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You couldn't write a better screenplay.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It was a fascinating bit of television. Donald Newbury, the last -- by the way, they both surrendered, as you heard. They both surrendered peacefully so the "Texas Seven" are no more. One of them has killed himself, and the other six are now in custody.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: All are accounted for now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yeah. Donald Newbury said the judicial system in Texas is "the pits," that's a quote. He said you get 99 years in prison for a $68 robbery. He said, "The system is as corrupt as we are."

This is Donald Newbury, the second one, speaking. He said, "I've been set for the last 20 days to die."

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You know, it's interesting they both blasted the penal system, and sort of used that as the reason that they felt compelled to escape. And that is the reason that they wanted to talk to the media to highlight what they say is going on in the penal system. But you said...

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN coverage of what looks to be the peaceful ending to the standoff that was going on with the last two of the "Texas Seven." That might have been a little confusing for as a viewer. We were listening really to one local affiliate, taking another local affiliate. So there was sort of an exchange of anchors there.

But, again, the headline here: The two remaining Texas fugitives, who were holed up in a hotel room in Colorado Springs. The whole thing has ended peacefully through some negotiations that police actually were allowed to -- allow an interview.

We're taking you live to a press conference out of Colorado Springs. Lieutenant Skip Arms is speaking to the media. Let's hear what he has to say.


LIEUTENANT SKIP ARMS, COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPT.: ... they did have a message to deliver and then I'll get over there, and then they followed up with their commitment and did surrender peaceably to law enforcement authorities. So, again, we're extremely excited of the fact that this ended peacefully without any injuries. At this point, the investigation will be ongoing. We'll be obtaining a search warrant for the room to search for any missing items that have not yet been accounted for.

QUESTION: Where will...

QUESTION: Where are you taking them?

ARMS: Preliminary, they'll be taken down the Police Operation Center. We will have a photo available of them as soon as possible. And then, once they're processed there, they'll be taken down to the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center.

QUESTION: Skip, did you find anything inside the room so far?

ARMS: We are not searching the room until we get a search warrant.


ARMS: No, they did not.

QUESTION: Did they talk about arms at all?

ARMS: All they talked about was what was there on the interview.

QUESTION: Did they walk away peacefully?

ARMS: They did comply with the directions given to them by the officers and did submit peacefully to law enforcement.

QUESTION: Why do you think this interview was key in full operation?

ARMS: I think they felt that they had some message that they wanted to convey, and that was a method that enabled them to at least get their message out. And then, since we showed a level of trust to them, they followed through and showed a level of trust and did follow through on their commitment.

QUESTION: Could you talk about that, in terms of them talking about Colorado law enforcement and how professional they acted.

ARMS: Well, again, I feel that we've been extremely fortunate here with the level of cooperation, with all of the various agencies involved. We do feel that that level of cooperation extends through every level, whether it's municipal, county, state, or federal, and we're very fortunate in this region to have that type of cooperation. You know, again, it's been our objective to try to do this peacefully, and we've stated that to them from the onset.

QUESTION: Have they left the property?

ARMS: I believe they're probably in the process of that now.

QUESTION: Can you ascertain again how they surrendered?

QUESTION: Where were police, where was the reporter, and where were they?

ARMS: Our reporter was in the command post in a different part of the hotel. It was done by telephone. We had tactical officers that had been stationed in different areas around the room. And the individuals had been given directions on how they would surrender. Where they would back out the door with their hands visible to officers. And officers were waiting to place them in custody.

QUESTION: And that's exactly what they did?

QUESTION: Did you give directions to the reporter of things to say?

ARMS: The reporter was instructed to talk about their commitment and get them to follow through with their commitment.

QUESTION: How do you all feel tonight knowing this is over, it's over with peacefully? As far law enforcement in there, this must have been so stressful.

ARMS: Well, obviously, it has been a stressful situation for all agencies involved, whether it's here today or whether it's been over the past several weeks.

You know, again, we feel extremely fortunate that this happened without any injury to anybody, that was our objective from the beginning. And, you know, we came to that kind of conclusion so this episode is now closed and finalized.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) that questions is (INAUDIBLE)...

ARMS: That issue, I don't believe, was made part of the conversation. Certainly, in terms of the interview, I don't think it was addressed. So I don't think that had any significant impact on the outcome of this tonight.

QUESTION: Skip, any surprise at what they said in the telephone interview?

ARMS: I don't know if it was a surprise to the negotiators or not. I don't know if they had discussed the content of their interview or if they just left that open for them to do.

QUESTION: Big relief though after 42 days on the run?

ARMS: I think it's a relief for everybody involved and quite possibly even them themselves.

QUESTION: You handled it, right?

ARMS: The outcome is the key here. Nobody was hurt.


ARMS: Not that I'm aware of.

I'm going to move over to the other side and...

QUESTION: Yeah, all right. Thanks.

CARROLL: OK, you were hearing there from Lt. Skip Arms, giving some of the details surrounding the surrender of the two last escapees. They apparently surrendered peacefully without incident, no one hurt during that whole process, surrendered after giving an interview to a local reporter there, and whole thing ending. As they said, trust was established, and that's why police granted that interview with that local reporter. Right after that, they apparently came out with their arms up, walked out, just gave themselves up.

STOUFFER: That's right. And Lt. Arms also said, when he was asked about how this whole things was handled, he said, "The outcome is key. In all of this, nobody was hurt," he said.

Again, just under 10 minutes ago, the two remaining fugitives surrendered to police. We're talking about Patrick Murphy, Jr., a 39- year-old convicted rapist; and Donald Newbury.

It was mentioned they did have a chance to speak with a local journalist there. We were able to listen mainly to Patrick Murphy's statement. He said he'd spent 17 years in incarceration. He was actually up for parole, according to him. And he just felt like he would eventually become an outlaw again anyway, so he went ahead and joined up with the other six men who were planning or arranging somehow this escape.

And what he said too was that he really hoped that what they were doing with the escape and all of that would open people's eyes to what they see as being wrong with the whole system in Texas.

CARROLL: Yeah, in fact, that's why they said that they planned their escape to prove that there was something wrong with the penal system. Also when asked -- something interesting here, when asked why they had chosen Colorado, they said it was a random pick. They said their first stop was Pueblo, and then their second stop there was Woodland Park. Now that, again, came from Patrick Murphy, Jr.

We're also going to be hearing from Donald Newbury. In just a few moments, we're going to have both of those interviews for you in just a few moments.

STOUFFER: That's right. And just to recap quickly. Seven of these men escaped from the prison. Four were captured on Monday. One committed suicide. And just in the last 10 minutes or so, the other two surrendered to police.



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