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Recaptured suspect found guilty in killing

Published Feb. 12, 1997|Updated Sep. 30, 2005

Albert Leon Fletcher had a compelling reason to escape custody in Dade City in January 1995 and spend more than a year on the lam.

He was facing trial on a first-degree murder charge in Polk County.

Fletcher, formerly of Zephyrhills, was recaptured last year and was returned to face justice.

On Tuesday, a Circuit Court jury in Bartow returned its verdict: guilty as charged.

The jury will return to court Thursday to decide whether to recommend the death penalty.

Fletcher, now 26, was convicted in the April 1993 slaying of Nelson Medina Oliveras of Lakeland during a robbery attempt.

Fletcher's cousin, Douglas Porter, 25, told police he and Fletcher shot out the tires of Oliveras' car as Oliveras was driving on a lonely two-lane road. They did not know Oliveras, said Assistant State Attorney Paul Wallace.

"He (Oliveras) was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Wallace said.

Fletcher and Porter were captured, but Fletcher escaped in January 1995 while being transported to the Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City to stand trial on charges of armed burglary and grand theft. Police had alleged that Fletcher committed burglaries in Pasco during a crime rampage that included Oliveras' killing.

To make his escape, Fletcher picked the locks on his handcuffs and leg shackles and fled.

He was recaptured in April after the television show Unsolved Mysteries showed his photo. A neighbor recognized Fletcher as the man who had moved into a mobile home park outside Smyrna, Del. He was living with a woman who didn't know his true identity.

Meanwhile, Porter was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for Oliveras' killing. His conviction was overturned, and he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and attempted robbery in exchange for a life sentence.

In Fletcher's trial this month, Porter accused him of being the triggerman in Oliveras' slaying.

Fletcher also was convicted in 1994 of an armed burglary in Pasco County after a Circuit Court trial in Dade City. He was sentenced to 17 years.

In July, Fletcher pleaded guilty to the January 1995 escape and was sentenced to three years.

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