Forks jail escapee pleads guilty to eight charges

PORT ANGELES — A 22-year-old Forks man who escaped the city jail with an inmate who later died by suicide in January has pleaded guilty to eight charges in Clallam County Superior Court.

The inmates attacked a Forks corrections officer who remains on administrative leave after suffering serious injuries, Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley said Friday.

Alejandro Cendejas-Montoya, who does not have a felony record, could receive five years in prison under an agreement reached by Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney April King and Clallam Public Defender attorney Doug Kresl, representing Cendejas-Montoya.

Cendejas-Montoya’s change of plea hearing was Thursday.

The plea deal spanned three cases against him.

Judge Erik Rohrer delayed Cendejas-Montoya’s sentencing, which had been scheduled for Thursday, until 9 a.m. July 12.

Kresl said Cendejas-Montoya could have been facing 10½ years had a first-degree robbery charge not been reduced to second-degree robbery that his client pleaded guilty to as part of the plea deal.

He also pleaded guilty to second-degree escape from a detention facility-law enforcement enhancement, accomplice to forgery, first-degree trafficking in stolen property, second-degree introducing contraband, possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana (heroin), use of drug paraphernalia, and second-degree assault-law enforcement enhancement, which Cendejas-Montoya paused at before pleading guilty.

Forks Police corrections officer Sue Roberts was injured at the outset of the escape at about 9 p.m. Jan. 15 after Cendejas-Montoya shoved her and tried taking away her jail keys, police said in a probable cause statement.

Jail inmate Boe James Baker, 35, of Forks, simultaneously attacked her, punching her in the face and pushing her to the floor, according to the probable cause statement.

Officers saw the two leaving the jail, they said.

Cendejas-Montoya was captured after hiding in the area and running into the woods, police said.

Baker was found hanged from a shrub by his T-shirt in a yard near the jail at about 8 a.m. the following morning, according to the statement.

Roberts, who suffered three facial fractures and was put on paid administrative leave, has post-traumatic stress disorder, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney April King said at the court hearing.

She said the cost of counseling for Roberts would be part of Cendejas-Montoya’s restitution agreement.

Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley said Friday that Roberts remains in recovery and on paid medical leave through state Labor and Industries.

“It’s hard to say at this point how she’s doing,” he said.

“It’s good to hear the court has found that it was a severe injury, with the restitution,” Rowley said, adding that the sentence will likely be substantial, “even though he has a limited criminal history.”

Kresl said after the plea that Cendejas-Montoya has children and is a longtime Forks resident.

“It was an agreed recommendation in part because it was a guard” who was a victim in the escape, Kresl said.

“It was a middle ground.”

Bank checks

In an April 10, 2018 probable cause statement written when Cendejas-Montoya was already in custody, Officer Julie Goode said he admitted to taking four bank checks that a 20-year-old woman he knew had tried to cash four times.

Cendejas-Montoya also pawned an optic scope that the owner of the bank checks identified as his own, police said

The contraband, controlled substance and drug paraphernalia charges grew out of an Aug. 24, 2016 incident.

While in the jail, Cendejas-Montoya was found with 1.5 grams of heroin in a sock he was wearing and which he told authorities he had brought with him into the facility when he was booked, according to the probable cause statement.

The forgery and trafficking charges grew out of a Dec. 20, 2017 report of a theft investigated by the Forks Police Department.

Rowley said Cendejas-Montoya brought the drugs into the jail inside a body cavity.

Security at the jail has since been enhanced with the addition of a surveillance camera to a jail recreation yard.

Rowley said the jail has one corrections officer and that he hopes to hire an additional officer soon after offering employment Thursday to an applicant.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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