Authorities in Ohio arrested a murder defendant yesterday who this month was mistakenly released after a Prince George's County judge confused him with another defendant with a Latino name.
The authorities said they tracked down Pedro H. Guifarro, 25, of Chillum at Honduras Auto Repair Shop in Cleveland, where he had recently been hired. Guifarro was wearing a garage uniform and had a fake state ID that identified him as Esteban Badillo of North Olmsted, Ohio, said Pete Elliott, the U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Ohio.
The other garage workers apparently didn't know that their co-worker was a fugitive.
"He's been slick," said Lt. Joe Aiello, commander of the warrant fugitive unit for the Prince George's sheriff's office.
Guifarro is accused of being the driver in what prosecutors believe was a gang-related slaying Aug. 1 in the Adelphi area. According to police charging documents, Edgar Carrera, 23, was standing near his parked vehicle when a pickup driven by Guifarro pulled up. A man in the pickup, Juan Rodriguez, exchanged words with Carrera, then shot him in the head, the charging documents allege.
The pickup then drove away, according to the documents. Rodriguez has been jailed without bond on a charge of first-degree murder.
Guifarro was arraigned Sept. 16. His file was sent back to Prince George's Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Femia on Oct. 4 for rearraignment because it appeared that Guifarro didn't have an attorney.
The judge ordered Guifarro's release. Femia had been told several days earlier about a different defendant, whose attorney had asked Femia to rescind a bench warrant, which the attorney had said was in error. Femia got the two defendants mixed up, he said in an interview, and released the wrong man. Femia acknowledged that he "screwed up."
Femia served on the circuit court for 20 years and retired in 1997. He now sits part time, usually presiding over the so-called rocket docket, in which judges quickly hear dozens of lower-level cases.
After Guifarro's release, local authorities began running down leads. Sheriff's deputies were told that Guifarro was at an apartment in Langley Park on Wednesday night, but they didn't get the information until after he had left, Aiello said. "We missed him Wednesday night by just a few hours," he said.
Authorities would not say how much help they believe Guifarro had in his journey. Sometime in the past two weeks, Guifarro got the fake Ohio identification, which had his picture and which authorities said looked genuine.
Aiello said Prince George's deputies drove to Ohio yesterday morning. Two deputies, joined by four federal marshals, closed in on the body shop.
Two of the authorities entered the shop in civilian clothes, posing as customers, Aiello said. The suspect didn't resist, nor did he admit to anything, authorities said.
As of last night, Guifarro was being held in the Cleveland city jail, Elliott said. It was not immediately clear when Guifarro would return to Maryland. The phone at the body shop was out of order yesterday, according to a recording.