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2 jail escapees indicted

Two convicted killers who escaped from the Daggett County Jail have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

The indictment handed on Wednesday charged Danny Martin Gallegos and Juan Carlos Diaz-Arevalo with carjacking, possession of a stolen firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Federal prosecutors would not rule out the possibility of more charges being filed against the men.

"We would always be open to more if an investigation led to other potential violations of federal law," said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for Utah.

The indictment stems from the Sept. 29 confrontation with a 79-year-old man that ultimately led to the capture of Gallegos and Diaz-Arevalo. After escaping from the Daggett County Jail on Sept. 23, the men hid out in the wilderness along the Utah-Wyoming border, living off spring water and food they had hidden away in their pockets.

They came upon the camper trailer of retired Salt Lake City police officer Bill Johnson, tying him up and stealing his SUV. Johnson managed to free himself and get help. A police chase with the wanted fugitives ended in Rock Springs, Wyo., when Gallegos was shot and Diaz-Arevalo was taken into custody.

Federal prosecutors said no court appearance has been scheduled yet for the men.

"We would like to bring them in together, and we will wait and see how Mr. Gallegos' physical condition improves," Rydalch said.

Gallegos, 49, is recovering from a gunshot wound and is listed in fair condition at University Hospital. Diaz-Arevalo, 27, is back in the Utah State Prison.

The Daggett County Attorney has already filed second-degree felony escape charges against the inmates. Police in Sweetwater County, Wyo., said they are declining to pursue charges at this time.

Gallegos and Diaz-Arevalo were serving prison time for murder. The Utah Department of Corrections has ordered a review of security at all county jails with which the state contracts to house inmates because of bed space and funding issues.

On Wednesday, the Duchesne County Jail was inspected for six hours by three auditors from the corrections department.

"They had no concerns. They really like our jail," Duchesne County Jail commander Lt. Keith Hansen said of the audit. "It was pretty thorough. We do have things that could be upgraded, but we're a secure facility."

The Duchesne County Jail has a contract to hold up to 150 state inmates but is currently housing 136, Hansen said.


Contributing: Geoff Liesik

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com