Last conviction in 'not-so-great escape'
October 9, 2019
CLOVIS - The last of three local jail escapees to face court this year was convicted of five felony counts Tuesday in connection with the trio's short-lived flight from the Curry County Adult Detention Center in June 2018.
Ricky Sena, 26, now faces a maximum exposure between 30 and 50 years in prison in a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled. That range includes an enhancement of either four or eight years for each felony conviction, based on whether the courts determine if he has two or three qualifying prior felony convictions in the past ten years.
Sena is the last of five individuals charged in connection with the June 15, 2018 jail escape and the only one to face a jury trial. Victor Apodaca, 30, and Aaron Clark, 33, each pleaded guilty to two counts of escape from jail and conspiracy to commit escape early this year. Apodaca was sentenced in January to 16 years in prison and Clark in February to 11 years.
Former CCADC officer Sarina Dodson, 29, pleaded guilty in January to three counts of assisting the escape and one count of bringing contraband to the jail, for which she was sentenced in May to nine years in prison. Investigators said Dodson from her position alone in the jail's control room had unlocked the three doors in sequence that led the trio from the facility's recreational yard and down a hallway into freedom.
That freedom didn't last long, as the three were apprehended together following an armed standoff with police June 19, 2018 at a Clovis residence. Jon Hausmann, 39, was also convicted this year of one count of harboring or aiding a felon and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
Sena twice rejected attempts to reach a plea agreement, and that offer was no longer on the table by the time he secured representation in recent months from defense attorney Jonathan Miller, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover.
"Mr. Sena had been represented by two other attorneys during the period he was prosecuted, and in both instances we attempted to resolve the cases by being reasonable," Stover told The News. "We offered what we thought was a reasonable plea given his participation, which as you can see was greater than the other two (Apodaca and Clark)."
Investigators alleged Sena pointed a gun at Clovis Police officer James Gurule during a standoff at a residence on the 1200 block of Dartmouth Street, to which Gurule immediately responded with gunfire. Sena, Clark, and Apodaca were inside the residence at the time, and prosecutors in trial on Monday presented evidence that "only Sena has cuts on the arm from glass" that ricocheted in the confrontation.
There were no other injuries reported during the standoff, and the three men surrendered themselves to police about an hour after the shots were fired.
In testimony Monday afternoon Gurule said he had once coached Sena in youth football, which Stover told The News was relevant on two accounts.
"It showed the officer was very familiar with him and could recognize him and that he didn't have a bias (against Sena)," Stover explained.
Miller took issue with the officer's ability to distinguish Sena from Clark or Apodaca during the confrontation, but the jury of five women and seven men were still convinced by the state's argument. The jury took about 45 minutes Tuesday morning to find Sena guilty of aggravated assault upon a peace officer and possession of a firearm by a felon, among other charges.
Sena was acquitted on only charge - tampering with evidence - as Miller maintained there was not enough evidence to pin his client for concealing the handgun, found folded inside a hat inside the bathroom of the residence after the standoff.
"I'm happy the jury saw he was innocent of one charge and we do plan to appeal the others," Miller told The News after trial. "I don't know when the sentencing is going to be, but he does have a lot of people that want to speak."
Sena's parents attended the trial on Monday and his grandmother was present in court Tuesday, Miller said.
The jury also found Sena guilty of attempting to escape from the custody of a peace officer, following the state's argument that while being transported back to the jail he manipulated the lock on his handcuffs using a metal tool concealed in his sock.
Stover said Sena acknowledged his deeds when face to face again with CCADC administrator Mark Gallegos, who also testified Monday.
"For the first time in the entire ordeal, (Sena) probably said the most honest thing: 'Warden, I'm sorry for escaping,'," Stover said in his opening argument.
Miller also told the jury they would take little time in returning a guilty verdict on the charge of escaping the jail but maintained in trial that Sena was not the mastermind, if there was a mastermind at all.
"This was the not-so-great escape," Miller said.
Stover said he was "very happy" with the juror's decision and glad to see the last of the individuals charged in last year's escape convicted.
"I can't say enough about the job that the Curry County Sheriff department did in investigating the case and in tracking these three people down. They were following down every single lead, and then (for) the Clovis Police Dept. to come in and resolve the standoff the way they did," he told The News. "Officer Gurule, he really was facing down the barrel of the gun, and it's horrible that he was placed in that situation, and we just can't tolerate that kind of behavior."