Violent Felon Fools Guards, Flees Jail -- Escapee Uses Id Of Inmate Due To Be Released

When King County Jail guards release a prisoner, they check his ID wristband. They fingerprint him and have him sign for his possessions. They even ask him, occasionally, to recite his birthday and Social Security number.

But they don't have a booking photograph handy.

And Marvin Roche Hunter, a felon who was awaiting trial on first-degree rape and robbery charges, is at large partly because of the omission.

Ray Coleman, associate director of the King County Detention Center, admitted human error occurred last Friday night when Hunter, whom prosecutors call a danger to the community, fooled jail workers into thinking he was another inmate due to be released.

But Coleman defended the jail's procedure, saying 55,000 prisoners were released last year without a mistake.

Coleman said a computer will be installed this spring to allow guards to instantly verify visual identification of prisoners.

Hunter and the other inmate are African American, but Hunter is 3 inches taller and 9 years younger than the other prisoner, who is being held on drug charges.

A guard making routine checks several hours after Hunter's release found the inmate who was supposed to be released sitting in Hunter's cell.

Coleman said authorities believe the man who switched identities with Hunter did so willingly. That inmate may be charged with aiding and abetting a felon.

Both men were apparently able to remove and exchange their

plasticized ID bracelets, similar to those worn by hospital patients, Coleman said.

During a recreation period, the two men switched cells so Hunter would be coming out of the cell of the prisoner due to be released.

Hunter memorized the other prisoner's Social Security number, his date of birth and other information on the booking sheet. Evidence found in his cell showed Hunter had been practicing the other man's signature.

And Coleman said Hunter made sure he smudged the fingerprint used by guards to verify identity.

The tactic had been tried in the past, said Coleman, but never successfully.

Hunter, who prosecutors claim went on a robbery, rape and assault spree at a Kent trailer park last month, was being held on $250,000 bail because he was considered an extreme flight risk.

State Department of Corrections records show Hunter, 21, had served time for drug, robbery, theft and escape convictions - all stemming from King County offenses - and has used 10 aliases.

On Dec. 4, prosecutors allege, Hunter and Alonzo Warren, 24, forced their way into two different units of the Tip Top Trailer Park on Pacific Highway South.

They were accused of sexually assaulting two women and holding a gun to the head of another during an armed robbery in which they also forced two men to strip so they could be searched for money and drugs.

A woman, 41, was hospitalized after being beaten and raped.

Veltry Johnson, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said Hunter was convicted of first-degree robbery, motor-vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and escape when he was 16 years old.

King County police yesterday put out a warrant for Hunter's arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

Hunter is described as 6 feet 2 inches, 175 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. His last known address was on Beacon Hill.

Although jail officials discovered Hunter's escape late Friday night, they didn't begin alerting the media until yesterday.

"Our policy is to notify the police and usually at about the same time the media calls us," Coleman said. "But that didn't happen in this case. I don't know why not."

Jail officials did notify the Seattle Police Department, which put out a bulletin to its officers. Police spokeswoman Vinette Tischi said it is the jail's responsibility to put out public notice of an escape.