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Irving, Texas Police Department Holds News Conference on Capture of Final Two Prison Escapees

Aired January 24, 2001 - 11:45 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to Irving, Texas. We're being briefed now by David Tull. He's with the Irving Police Department, giving the latest information now on the final capture of the final two of the "Texas Seven" fugitives.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DAVID TULL, IRVING, TEXAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: ... and I don't have that for you right now to delineate and, you know, give you a total number like that. That will come as we progress.

Another thing that some had and some didn't -- I'm not sure how that got missed in the translation, but as far as wounds on the suspects, everybody knew about Halprin had a wound to his foot as well as that Rivas has a wound to his stomach and to his upper thigh. The question as far as whether Officer Hawkins fired any shots or not, again, I still don't have a substantial answer for you on that. That's still yet to be determined.

And one thing I do have for you, I know that everybody has put in FOI requests for -- the Freedom of Information requests for anything and everything involved with this case. Again, with the ongoing investigation, a lot of that is very limited. It's been put forward for an attorney general opinion.

Something that is -- we're making an exception on this case. I do have the arrest warrant affidavits. I'll make those available to you. Again, you'll have to go through the court that issued those to get that. But, again, an exception, so next time around we'll still have to do the regular procedure, but I've gotten approval for this at this time.

The other thing on that is I won't be able to speak to the document itself, but you'll have that to look over and review. There is one missing out of here, but they all read the same, just the names are changed on them. So that's just that bit of information there so when you go through it and you realize one's missing, I just couldn't get my hand on it right then. All right?

I'm going to take just a few questions because we do need to clarify some things.

Yes, ma'am. QUESTION: When did you learn that the operation was happening overnight?

TULL: Personally, I was made aware of it at about 1:00 this morning. I've been working on it since that point, again, in contact back and forth with our investigators in Colorado, as well as the people that need to know about it here. We've been working on it rather steady from that point.

QUESTION: What's been the reaction of the police officers?

TULL: Like I started out just a while ago, this is a good day. We all took a collective breath on Christmas Eve. We had a little bit of relief on that when the -- when we had the custody issue earlier in the week. Now again we can take a different kind of breath now. The officers here are extremely glad to see this is over. I think law enforcement nationwide has got the same feeling. We were all in a very clenched-up, high anxiety mode for a full month. That is very stressful on everybody involved.

Yes sir.

QUESTION: Do you know who actually killed Officer Hawkins?

TULL: At this point that's still being determined. Rivas has given statements admitting to his role in the shooting of Officer Hawkins. And I guess the follow up with that would be that everybody that our officers, our investigators have talked to is being cooperative at this point. Again, we do still have that murder investigation as a primary point of our focus here in Irving. And those details, some of them may not come out until it does got to trial.

Yes.

QUESTION: David, is the fresh wound the one that he got -- that Rivas got on his body is something that he got in the last confrontation or something that he probably might got it with competition with Officer Hawkins?

TULL: Yes, my information on Rivas' -- on all the wounds, again, I don't have great detail on those. I don't think we can characterize them as "fresh." I believe it's going to be from the Christmas Eve situation. And, again, we haven't determined -- made the positive determination yet whether or Officer Hawkins did or did not fire. Again, these wounds are -- that's part of the things we'll be finding out and maybe can get more to you.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: David, what happened right after the robbery? They dumped the Explorer here. What happened from that point? What pieces can you fill in for us?

TULL: Very little because, again, with the ongoing investigation -- and we don't want to -- if anything, we're going to be overcautious on this particular incident. You all are well aware of that, obviously, at this point. That's going to be details that we're really not going go into until it does comes to trial, so I can't really help you on that.

There was a hand over...

QUESTION: Officer Tull?

TULL: Yes.

QUESTION: The extradition. If they're ready to go, if they waive their rights out there, are you all going to go pick them up, or how is that going to happen? What -- are they going to be housed (OFF-MIKE)?

TULL: As far as the extradition goes, again, there's several variables in that. I'm really not well-versed on extradition procedures myself. To speak to that, what I'm going to say is that we're letting people that are very well-versed in that situation work with it. Time is not a factor with us. It'll be done as expeditiously as possible. The more important thing is to get the technical details down, again, as I said before, dot the "I"s, cross the "T"s, do this properly. And then the actual physical transport as well will be decided by the entities involved. I really don't have any positive information on that.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: David, the last two suspects had kind of painted themselves as a victim of the justice system. What was your reaction and also the chief's reaction, even some of the other officers, to the fact that these two guys are claiming they're the victims?

TULL: Well, I'm going to key off the chief's reaction. I feel comfortable with that because, again, I try to keep my personal views out of this. I don't see that they were the victims. And to quote the chief, the victim was Aubrey Hawkins. We buried the victim, OK? I echo that sympathy and I think most people do. We'll deal with that as it goes along.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Did the chief address the department this morning after he came in? And if so, what did he say?

TULL: At one point this morning we separated. I'm not sure if that was done or not. If it hasn't been done, it will be. Again, we worked quite a bit this morning discussing this and I'm just not positive if he did that or not. I can't really give you an answer. But I feel sure, if not, it will be done at a good time.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: David, state or federal charges?

TULL: Again, as far as the actual charges, that's as far as what you look at -- my understanding, what you look at on extradition is, you know, there's different things that can blend into that if you have too many that could bog things down. I would think that the -- and I may be wrong on this, but you would look and see which is going to get this done the most effectively, the most expeditiously and go from there. So I can't really speak to the charges.

And right -- did you have one? Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Have you worked out yet the details on the disbursement of the reward money?

TULL: Again, as far as the reward money goes, that is not something that's going to be done -- I wouldn't -- you know, today or tomorrow. That's going to be a longer process. The one thing I want to get across: that reward money is there to be given out. Details will have to be discussed back and forth between the individual entities that have established that reward fund in coalition with the police department.

Those are thing -- I haven't bogged down with the detail on that, but, again, rest assured that money is there for a purpose and it's not a point of, let's see how we can keep from giving it out, it's just a matter of getting it done properly with all the details.

And yes, sir. I held you off a while ago.

QUESTION: You anticipate (OFF-MIKE) for aiding and abetting?

TULL: As far as the aiding and abetting situation goes, that's part of the investigation that I'm sure is continuing and will continue, as well as details on the escape and other things. Again, our primary focus right now, from the Irving Police Department that I'm speaking on, is our capital murder investigation. Again, that -- probably I can address that better at a later point.

And over here, OK.

QUESTION: When you found the brown van yesterday, were you pretty sure that you'd find the two guys (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or did you think what many people thought, that they were long gone?

TULL: There was a lot of speculation on both sides.

Well, we'll let that pass.

There was a lot of speculation in both areas on that. Sure, the chance was there that they were close by. There were indications that they may have left that and had some time frame between that. I believe that there was, from the media I heard, that somebody had looked into see how many cars were stolen from a specific area. Again, we looked at all the options and possibilities. My understanding as well is that there were a lot of tips received from that point until the point they were located.

So, again, we're looking at all options on that. We were wide open at that point. We weren't sure, just like when we had the description on the van. They had at least a 24-hour jump, they could have been within a 24-hour range. As it turns out, they were very, very close proximity.

And one more.

QUESTION: How important is it to the Irving officers that these men come back here to face charges here as opposed to in a courtroom in another city or county?

TULL: I think it's very important. Again, just the technicalities on that, the crime that we're prosecuting, that we're going forward with was a Dallas County case. So that -- as far as I can tell, unless there's other proceedings that go on, it would occur in Dallas County. Of course there's, you know, legalese that can move things around. What we're looking at, again, our main impetus was to get them off the street, get the citizens and the police department safe again where we didn't have that in front of us every day that we came to work.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: David, describe the role of your officers up there in Colorado, how much they have done with the investigation.

TULL: My understanding of our role in Colorado as far, as the Irving Police Department, our investigators, they were on the plane immediately along with -- we were all down in Huntsville at the commander center at the time. Certain people got on the plane with the other forces that were down there as well, as we had also investigators that left from Irving. They all arrived about the same time in Colorado. My understanding -- all agencies understood how important the capital murder case was, and that Irving had definitely needed to be involved in a the very forefront of this investigation. Yes, there are other agencies that have cases pending and various warrants and such, but that was the main impetus. And so Irving did have a very important role in that, and it was understood and handled well by all agencies.

Just a couple more.

QUESTION: Can you speak about the public's role?

QUESTION: The grand jury. When will this case go before the grand jury?

TULL: As far as the grand jury, again, that's -- I haven't really gotten into that in depth. They have regular times, procedures they can call special sessions. There's, again, more variables there that I really can't speak to. I can see the grand jury looking at this anytime from immediately to, you know, a week or two away. Again, the main thing is time is on our side on this and the actions will be taken properly to get this proper done.

A question over here.

QUESTION: Can you speak on the public's roles. All of these guys were found because of the public.

TULL: Exactly. As far as the public's role in this, I mentioned it yesterday, but we've been thanking all the agencies. Everybody understands the agencies involved, and I don't want to leave anybody out so I won't really go into that. We all feel confident that that's been done.

The public's role in this is, foremost, the one thing that got this broken. We've been saying all along, keep the pictures out there. The media's done that for us. The public's taken these pictures and made posters. Everybody's thinking about it. The public is who called these tips in. The system works, folks. We got them off of the street. We didn't know how long it would take, but it works. The public broke this case for us and we can't tell you how much we appreciate that.

I've gotten, well, up into the hundreds -- I know I've got over 400 different e-mails alone, much less the phone calls from all over the United States and the world, in fact, people showing the empathy and sympathy for our department, their wishes. The public's behind us. That's what it takes to keep law enforcement going when we think we can't go anymore.

One more question and we're going to go ahead and wind up.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) expresses remorse for the killing of Officer Hawkins, and some of the other escapees express remorse, do you think that should be taken into consideration when their penalty extends? Anyone think they should not face the death penalty depending on how much they cooperate or show remorse?

TULL: I think that as far as any remorse that's shown by any of these individuals that demonstrated how vicious and dangerous they can be, the court system works. That will all be taken into account by anybody that listens to the case, and I think it will have the proper weight put to it. Again, personal decisions on my part are not what I can weigh into this.

And I would say one more, but I had two at once. I think you had something and then we're going to wind it up.

QUESTION: Is there a fund set up for Hawkins' wife?

TULL: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Is there a fund set up for Hawkins' wife?

TULL: Yes sir, as far as there are funds set up for Officer Hawkins' wife, there is a trust fund that has been established early on that is for officer -- I said trust fund -- it's a memorial fund for the Hawkins family. That's down at the Irving City Employees Federal Credit Union, Pioneer Drive here in Irving. You can contact our police administration if you need more information on that rather than going into phone numbers and such.

Now, again, I thank you for your time. And I'd like to leave, again, just thanking the public for their assistance and thanking the media for their assistance in this whole situation.

QUESTION: Where did you say the gun was found?

HARRIS: And we want to thank our affiliate from Dallas, KDFW, for providing us this live coverage of Officer David Tull from the Irving Police Department, who's briefing reporters there about the aftermath of the final capture of those final two of the "Texas Seven" fugitives.

Here are the pictures that we've got of them. This is Patrick Murphy on the left and Donald Newbury you see there on the right. They were captured this morning in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And the word that we're getting here from Officer Tull is that the expedition process is still being examined right now. Time is on their -- on the officer's, police department's side, in his words. He also says that they're still investigating the possibility of there being any accomplices who aiding and abetted these men while they were on the loose.

And of course we'll keep you updated with any details as they come in. This is a still-evolving story.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And as we can see from those pictures, it's amazing how different they look from their mugshots...

HARRIS: Yes.

KAGAN: ... how much they were able to change their appearances.

HARRIS: They went through quite a ways to change their appearance. And it apparently worked to keep them free for are a while.

KAGAN: Yes, for a while. But that game is over.

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