Former Las Vegas prosecutor who helped put convicted murderer behind bars talks bombing case

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A prison escapee climbed out of his cell window, over a barbed wire fence, sources say

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The prosecutor who helped put convicted murderer Porfirio Duarte-Herrera behind bars for life said he didn’t learn of the prisoner’s escape on Friday until he received a last minute alert from 8 News Now investigators.

“When were you informed that he had escaped?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Dave Stanton, the former chief assistant district attorney for Clark County, on Wednesday.

“By you,” Stanton said.

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, 42, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for murder at the Southern Desert Correctional Center, records show. (NDOC/KLAS)

Duarte-Herrera, 42, was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Southern Desert Correctional Center for the murder of Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, who was 24, records show. The prison is about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the rural community of Indian Springs.

8 News Now investigators first reported the breakout around 11am on Tuesday. It was only after 1 p.m. that NDOC officials issued a press release about it, confirming earlier reports by 8 News Now investigators. On Tuesday night, NDOC officials clarified their statement to say that Duarte-Herrera had in fact escaped on Friday, not Tuesday as is implied.

Duarte-Herrera used acid to help erode the area securing his cell window so he could get out, sources said. He also created a cardboard mannequin to leave in his cell, 8 News Now investigators reported on Tuesday. Duarte-Herrera also sewed a coat in a prison classroom, which he took with him after his escape, sources said.

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera in court in 2007. (NDOC/KLAS)

Several people involved in his murder trial and sentencing were not immediately notified, sources told 8 News Now investigators.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who serves on the Board of Prison Commissioners with Governor and Attorney General Aaron Ford, was not told until after 8 News Now reported, she said in a statement.

“I am outraged that the Department of Corrections did not notify the Board of Prisons Commissioners of the escape when it was apparently first discovered last weekend,” she said. “Personally, I learned about it from yesterday’s publications in the media. We await an update on the investigation the Governor has ordered, and hope that the fugitive will be apprehended quickly and without incident. We expect the Department to take steps to prevent such leaks and communication failures in the future.

A jury convicted Duarte-Herrera of making a bomb and then planting it on Dorantes Antonio’s car with his co-defendant, Omar Rueda-Denvers, in a parking lot at the Luxor Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Dorantes Antonio was dating the co-defendant’s girlfriend at the time.

The pipe bomb was placed inside a 7-11 Styrofoam cup, police said. Explosives and other bomb-making materials were in the cup.

An aerial view of the scene of the Luxor car park bombing in May 2007. (KLAS)

“The victim picked him up, the pressure switch was activated, the bomb went off and he was killed instantly,” Stanton said.

Police later linked Duarte-Herrera to the murder based on video evidence and other items found in the garage.

In October 2006, Duarte-Herrera planted a bomb that exploded in a Home Depot parking lot near Charleston and Lamb boulevards, police said. Investigators found components similar to both devices at Duarte-Herrera’s residence, they said.

“The knowledge and use of violence of this type is sophisticated and done without any remorse,” Stanton said Wednesday, adding that he believed the two men were using aliases.

In October 2006, Duarte-Herrera planted a bomb that exploded in a Home Depot parking lot near Charleston and Lamb boulevards, police said. (KLAS)

“What do you remember from the trial? asked Charns.

“My distinct memory is sitting in the well of the courtroom arguing this case before a jury knowing full well that the name we were using was a pseudonym and that wasn’t really his name and that’s why I think, among other reasons that he’s going to be hard to catch,” Stanton said.

With Duarte-Herrera’s history in making bombs, Stanton said those currently looking for him were in danger. He added that he hoped everyone involved in the case, including Dorantes’ girlfriend Antonio and his child, would be informed in due course.

“She better be warned by someone so she can take the proper precautions to protect herself and her child,” Stanton said.

8 News Now investigators asked the Department of Corrections if and when it informed the woman and her child and had not received a response as of Wednesday evening.

Duarte-Herrera is considered dangerous.

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