By Kelli Kennedy
MIAMI — A manhunt is under way for a prisoner convicted in two violent sexual assaults who stabbed one of two police escorts and escaped in the Dallas area as he was being transferred from Florida to Nevada, police said Tuesday.
Alberto Morales, 42, somehow obtained a sharp object and stabbed one of the officers once in the neck and three times in the back Monday night outside a Walmart in Grapevine, city police Lt. Barry Bowling said. Miami-Dade Police Detective Jaime Pardinas, a 54-year-old who has been on the force for 28 years, is in serious but stable condition, authorities said.
Pardinas and Detective David Carrero were scheduled to fly to Nevada with Morales so he could serve two life sentences there for aggravated sexual assault. But the officers and Morales weren't allowed to get back on the plane during a layover in Texas because of the inmate's erratic behavior, authorities said.
During the first leg of the flight, Morales was "bumping his head against a passenger seat in front of him, so he was doing a lot of crazy, unusual things that just disrupted the entire flight," said Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson Jr.
The detectives were then forced to rent a vehicle at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with the intention of driving the nearly 1,200 miles to their destination. Miami Police said there are clear policies about transporting inmates across state lines, but didn't discuss details other than to say two officers must be present.
The officers stopped to use the restroom at the store late Monday night and were waiting for a third officer to meet them and assist with the rest of the trip. While Carrero was inside the store using, Morales got hold of a sharp object, stabbed Pardinas and fled, authorities said.
"He was handcuffed. We don't know how he got the handcuffs free," Patterson said.
It's unclear if Morales' hands were cuffed in front or behind him or if he was shackled. Miami police also declined to speculate on how Morales obtained the object he used to stab the officer. Morales, who was born in Cuba, is believed to have run away.
Morales was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December in Miami after pleading guilty to sexual battery with a deadly weapon, burglary with assault and kidnapping stemming from a 2003 crime. He was being taken to Nevada to serve out life sentences on a separate sexual assault conviction in that state.
Authorities frequently fly inmates across the country and said they are occasionally forced off the plane by an inmate's behavior.
"The airlines are picky," said Miami-Dade Police Deputy Director Juan Perez, who noted airlines will ask officers escorting inmates to leave for minor things because they are worried about liability issues.
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Copyright 2013 Associated Press