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July 23, 2014

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Convict who escaped on way to Nevada vowed to never return to prison

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The Dallas Morning News, Kye R. Lee / AP

Grapevine Police Department Sgt. Robert Eberling speaks to the press at a mobile police command center in a parking lot in Grapevine, Texas, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. A manhunt is under way for Alberto Morales, a prisoner convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault, who stabbed one of two police escorts and escaped in the Dallas area as he was being transferred from Florida to Nevada, police said.

An undated handout photo provided by the Miami Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department shows Alberto Morales. A manhunt is under way for Morales, a prisoner convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault, 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 Feb. 12, 2013.

An undated handout photo provided by the Miami Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department shows Alberto Morales. A manhunt is under way for Morales, a prisoner convicted of kidnapping and sexual assault, 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 Feb. 12, 2013.

DALLAS — Police said Wednesday that a Florida detective who was stabbed near Dallas by a prisoner who was being transferred to Nevada is in "delicate condition" but will recover.

Miami-Dade police said that 54-year-old Det. Jaime Pardinas is expected to survive, but it will take months for him to recover from stab wounds to his neck and back.

Authorities were searching the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday for 42-year-old Alberto Morales, a convicted sex offender who escaped after the attack and who may still be wearing wrist shackles.

Police said Wednesday that Morales' former cell mates told investigators that he had vowed to never return to prison. Morales was so disruptive on Monday's flight into Houston that the Florida detectives decided to transport him by ground the rest of the way.

Police say Pardinas and Miami-Dade Det. David Carrero stopped near a Walmart in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb, while awaiting the arrival of a third officer who was flying in join them. Department policy requires there to be three officers present for ground transfers of prisoners.

While they were stopped, Morales broke off a piece from his eyeglasses and stabbed Pardinas once in the neck and three times in the back, police said. He then fled.

Police were taking Morales to Nevada, where he was to serve a sentence of 30 years to life for a conviction of sexual assault with a weapon. But the officers and Morales weren't allowed to get back on the plane during a layover in Houston 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," Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson Jr. said Tuesday.

Longtime Las Vegas defense attorney Marc Saggese, who represented Morales in a Nevada criminal case, said Tuesday that Morales claimed he suffered a severe brain injury when he was hit in the head with a baseball bat at age 17, and that he hears voices and has trouble controlling his impulses.

"He said that ever since that attack and subsequent surgeries he has been struggling with demons in his head," Saggese said.

While in a jail medical ward, Morales mutilated his genitals and scrawled words in blood on the wall. He underwent a psychological examination by doctors at a Nevada state mental hospital in Sparks, but he was found competent to stand trial, the attorney said.

Morales eventually pleaded guilty in 2008 to sexually assaulting a woman at an apartment blocks away from the Las Vegas Strip in 2003. The woman told police a man jumped from her closet in the middle of the night, held a gun to her face, blindfolded her, attacked her several times and left after telling her he would kill her if she called police, according to Clark County District Court documents.

Following his conviction in Las Vegas, Morales was sent to Florida to face prior charges, Las Vegas police Officer Laura Meltzer said.

Back in Miami, Morales was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December after pleading guilty to sexual battery with a deadly weapon, burglary with assault and kidnapping stemming from 2003. He broke into a Miami-area home, pulled out a butcher knife and raped two women, according to a police report.

Associated Press writers David Warren in Dallas, Kelli Kennedy in Miami and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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