SCC inmate caught in south state

February 03, 2003 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

An inmate who escaped from Sierra Conservation Center on Jan. 13 was arrested in Orange County early yesterday morning, and will be brought back to Tuolumne County to face charges.

Officials at the O'Byrnes Ferry Road prison said Robert Michael Judd, 29, walked away from a trusty job outside the prison gates. He was arrested by Buena Park police officers on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance for sale, SCC spokesman Jerry Underwood said this morning.

Underwood said he was not sure if Judd will face the drug charges in Southern California before being brought back here.

At the time he escaped from SCC, Judd was serving a six-year sentence for resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, Underwood said. He was sentenced May 31 in Monterey County after pleading guilty to the battery charge — considered Judd's second strike under the state's three-strikes law.

Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Marie Aronson said Judd was arrested by Seaside police after they found him asleep in a car in a hotel parking lot. When the officers questioned Judd as to why he was there, he fought with the officers.

"One officer got a separated shoulder, the other a sprained ankle, cuts and bruising," Aronson said.

Before that, Judd had served two years at SCC for first-degree burglary. His sentence began in November 1998, and during his prison time, he was involved in one of SCC's firefighting camps in Southern California.

Under the three strikes law, Judd could now face 25 years to life if convicted of escaping.

Judd was working at a prison snack bar outside the prison gates when he escaped. He was last accounted for at 4 p.m., and did not return to his dormitory at 5:15 p.m., Underwood said.

SCC immediately launched a search using cars, horses, boats, helicopters, dogs and prison post lookouts, Underwood said. The search cost SCC about $100,000, Underwood said.

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