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Prison Escapee Jerry Mercado Fighting Extradition From Georgia

Jerry Mercado, the Hartford man who police said escaped from Carl Robinson Correctional Institution on Jan. 7, is fighting extradition from Georgia, where he was arrested Wednesday on a fugitive warrant.

During a court hearing Friday in Cherokee County, Ga., Mercado, 25, told a judge he would fight efforts to bring him back to Connecticut, officials said. He is expected to get a full hearing on the extradition next week.

Authorities tracked Mercado to a Chevron station in Canton, Ga. He had managed to elude authorities for about 10 days before they apparently were tipped off to his location after he made calls to his family from the store phone at the Chevron.

The store manager, Jennifer Fernandez, told The Courant that Mercado had twice used the phone to call his family, but during one call he did not block the number. A relative called the number back and asked Fernandez where the call had come from, she said.

The Connecticut Department of Correction and the U.S. Marshal Task Force confirmed that they received a tip that Mercado was at a gas station. Police in Canton, Ga., said they received a call Wednesday from a Connecticut State Police detective alerting them that he had used a phone in Georgia.

Fernandez, initially unaware that Mercado was a fugitive, said he was still at the gas station when authorities came to review surveillance video. “Once they were looking at the cameras, he walked out of the store,” Fernandez said.

He surfaced again at the gas station as Fernandez was leaving for the day. She said she called 911 to alert authorities when she saw him hanging next to the building as she went to her car. Surveillance video shows a number of officers converging on Mercado, clad in heavy winter gear and a hat, as he stood near the counter at the gas station.

Since his arrest, Mercado has been held alone in a jail cell at a Georgia detention facility. If he returns to Connecticut, prison officials said, he will be placed in Northern Correctional Institution, a maximum security facility in Somers, in administrative segregation.

Mercado escaped from the Enfield prison on Jan. 7. Officials there said he clung to the undercarriage of a vehicle leaving the facility. The vehicle, a state maintenance truck, passed through the gates, which were not staffed, without inspection by correction officers, sources told the Courant.

A team from the DOC was working with state police, Hartford police and the U.S. marshals to track Mercado. A $2,500 reward had been offered for information leading to his arrest. Earlier this week, U.S. marshals said he may have left the state and may have been traveling through the New York metro area. The following day, he was arrested in Georgia.

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