DALLAS, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A Dallas jury Thursday convicted another of the seven inmates who escaped from a Texas prison in 2000 of murdering an Irving police officer.
The jury will decide next week whether Joseph Garcia receives a life sentence or the death penalty for the slaying of Officer Aubrey Hawkins during a Christmas Eve sporting goods store robbery. The jury took 90 minutes to return the guilty verdict.
Three other inmates who participated in the escape from the Connally Prison Unit have already received death sentences for killing Hawkins.
Prosecutors alleged that Garcia threatened employees of the Irving sporting goods store during the robbery. They said he was at the loading dock of the store when Hawkins was gunned down.
Garcia's attorney argued that the prosecution had never proved that his client fired at Hawkins during the ambush. He asked the jury to convict Garcia on the lesser charge of aggravated robbery.
The mass escape from the Connally Prison Unit in South Texas on Dec. 13, 2000, sparked a nationwide manhunt. The gang allegedly robbed the sporting goods store Dec. 24, stealing $70,000 in cash, 44 guns and shooting Hawkins 11 times as they fled.
Six of the escaped convicts were captured in January 2001 in the Colorado Springs, Colo., area. The seventh committed suicide when he was cornered.
The two remaining convicts will face capital murder trials later this year.