Alleged Coyote Ridge escapee faces trial

PASCO -- A man who allegedly walked away from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center while doing time on a drug conviction 18 years ago now faces a trial Dec. 1.

Artemio Mercado-Anaya, 37, is believed to be one of the first escapees from the Connell prison after it opened as a minimum security facility in 1992.

The prison did not have a fence then.

Mercado-Anaya -- who was 19 at the time -- left the prison without permission in September 1992, according to court documents.

He was serving a one-year, nine-month term from Clark County for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. It is not known how much time he had left on his sentence.

A warrant was issued in December 1992 for his arrest for escape.

Mercado-Anaya's whereabouts were unknown until this July, when U.S. Marshals happened upon him during a fugitive investigation in a triple-murder case in Dodge County, Wis., according to Franklin County Prosecutor Steve Lowe.

Marshals turned him over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who discovered through his fingerprints that he was living under another name, Lowe said.

The Department of Corrections arranged for his ride back to Washington.

Mercado-Anaya remains in the Franklin County jail on $25,000 bail while the escape case is pending. He also has holds from the Department of Corrections and ICE.