By: Joel Davis

Star-Telegram Talks To Leader Of ‘Texas 7’

Dogged determination and a little luck helped a young reporter for the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram win an exclusive jailhouse interview with the leader of a band of captured fugitives who escaped from a Texas prison.

Darren Barbee, who has only been with the Star-Telegram for about six months, walked into the Teller County (Colo.) Jail, asked to interview the lead fugitive – and was granted an interview with George Rivas, 30. Rivas, who dyed his hair blond as a disguise, was captured earlier this week after being on the lam since Dec. 13.

A Star-Telegram spokeswoman said Barbee, sent to Colorado to cover the story after a police standoff with the fugitives and subsequent arrests, was allowed to interview Rivas after federal charges related to the case were waived. Jail officials confiscated Barbee’s notebooks, however, and he was forced to take notes on scraps of paper he had in his pockets, the newspaper spokeswoman said.

In the interview, Rivas recounted the killing of Irving, Texas, police officer Aubrey Hawkins. Rivas told the Star-Telegram that he wounded the officer with a warning shot during a post-escape robbery of a sporting goods store. Rivas told Barbee that he then shot the officer three more times while the patrolman had his hands up. He added that he expects to receive the death penalty for killing Hawkins.

“I’m guilty. I’m prepared for it. It’s what I deserve,” Rivas told Barbee.

Joel Davis (jdavis@editorandpublisher.com) is West Coast editor for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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