FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Nine people were charged Tuesday with agreeing to help concoct alibis for a Florida murder suspect who last year staged a brazen escape from a crowded courtroom and is accused of killing a woman whose family founded the Halliburton oil services company.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference that the arrests were the result of an undercover operation into the alleged plot masterminded by 22-year-old Dayonte Resiles, who is charged with the 2014 slaying of Jill Halliburton Su, grand-niece of Halliburton Co. founder Erie P. Halliburton, during a burglary at her home.
The investigation began after a jail officer reported to supervisors that Resiles sought in a letter to bribe him to smuggle in a cellphone. Israel said authorities gave Resiles a wiretapped phone and monitored his attempts to get people to lie regarding his whereabouts on the day of the 2014 killing and unrelated burglaries.
In one letter to his sister, Resiles explained why he needed a phone in jail. "I got to get in touch with my witnesses so they know what to say when they testify," he wrote. "I'm just trying to prepare my case & beat trial."
Ultimately, using about 1,200 calls and text messages from the monitored phone, Resiles managed to convince the eight suspects to help him out, said Sgt. Jason Hendrick, chief of the sheriff's public corruption unit. Some even altered Resiles' Facebook account to back up his claims that he was out of town during the killing and burglaries.
"All of these people planned on helping him lie in court," Hendrick said.
Another suspect agreed to accept $1,000 to blame dead people for the crimes, including a story about how one now-deceased person supposedly planted Resiles' DNA on a knife and belt at the murder victim's home, Hendrick said.
The nine accused of plotting face a host of charges, including racketeering. In addition to murder, escape, burglary and other charges, Resiles is now facing 37 new charges stemming from the conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty to the previous charges.
Last July, Resiles was at large for five days after the escape in which he bolted from court by shedding shackles using a hidden key, fled down flights of stairs and burst through a back door to a waiting getaway car. Eight other people are charged with helping him escape and hide, which ended when he was captured at a motel in nearby West Palm Beach.
In the Su killing, the 59-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her bathtub, her hands and feet bound. In addition to the DNA evidence, investigators say they have cellphone evidence that places Resiles in the vicinity of the upscale gated community where she lived.
Israel said this latest effort by Resiles could make obtaining a conviction easier.
"His murder case, the case against him, was clearly strengthened by the investigation," the sheriff said. "We look forward to the day when prosecution begins."
This story has corrected the arrest total to nine.
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