Broward County

Manhunt still underway after murder suspect flees Broward County courtroom

Murder suspect flees Broward County courthouse

A video shows murder suspect Dayonte Resiles exiting the stairwell of the Broward County Courthouse on Friday, July 15, 2016.
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A video shows murder suspect Dayonte Resiles exiting the stairwell of the Broward County Courthouse on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Dayonte Resiles, a 21-year-old charged with murdering a woman in her Davie home, escaped his shackles, escaped a courtroom and escaped the Broward County courthouse Friday morning. As of Friday evening, he retains his unauthorized freedom from Broward law enforcement.

Resiles, accused of the September 2014 home invasion stabbing death of Davie’s Jill Halliburton Su, is listed at 5-10, 175 pounds. He’s decorated with eight tattoos: “La’Shay” on his right hand; “Kerry” on his left hand; “Joaquin” on his right wrist; “Shay” on his left wrist; flames on his right forearm; skull and hands on his left forearm; “Hood Stars” with stars on his upper left arm; and “Carol” and “Angel” on his upper right arm.

“If you think you’ve seen anyone who looks like Mr. Resiles, call us in,” Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Friday afternoon. “Inundate our call takers with calls. If you think you know where he is, if you think you know where he might be, if you think you know where he might be going, call us up.”

Israel said authorities were following various leads, but Resiles still eluded them. A Friday afternoon perimeter at the Regal Trace Apartments, 540 NW Fourth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, captured a suspect in an unrelated case.

Israel dismissed a rumor that Resiles quickly carjacked his way to transportation out of the downtown area. Resiles’ lead attorney, Broward County criminal attorney H. Dohn Williams, dismissed another rumor that Resiles died early Friday afternoon at a local hospital.

His day began at the Broward main jail, then continued to the Broward County Courthouse for a Friday hearing on whether the death penalty would be a sentencing option if he’s convicted of Su’s murder. Before the hearing began, Resiles got out of his shackles and raced out of the courtroom around 9:30 a.m. Friday. Williams said there are two stairwells from the fourth floor that lead outside. Surveillance video catches Resiles running to outside daylight through a courthouse stairway door.

The Broward County Courthouse was evacuated on July 15, 2016 after Dayonte Resiles, charged with first degree murder in September 2014, escaped the courthouse.

Though BSO scrambled to set up a perimeter within a few minutes, Israel said, “We believe he defeated the perimeter before we got into place. He escaped through the north end of the courthouse.”

Your client has escaped.

Text message received by Resiles lead attorney, H. Dohn Williams

I thought it was a joke. Nobody escapes from here.

Williams’ reaction to the text message.

Williams was on his way to the court for Resiles hearing when he got a text message from another member of the defense team:

“Your client has escaped.”

“I thought it was a joke,” Williams said. “Nobody escapes from here.”

Broward public defender chief assistant Gordon Weekes said, “Most of the time, they don’t get past the bar in the courtroom.”

After opening the Friday afternoon press briefing by pointing the finger at the county for BSO being understaffed at the courthouse, Israel said, “Resiles was brought from our prison to Judge (Raag) Singhal’s courtroom. He was shackeled appropriately, as far as wearing waist shackle. Whether or not he was secure, we’ll find out as we investigate. He was given to the bailiffs in the courtroom, who are unarmed civilians.”

Among the packed courtroom for the morning of hearings was Ocala’s Frank Celone. What follows is what Celone said he saw:

The inmates were brought into the courtroom and seated in the jury box with Resiles in the top row on the side closest to the door. As the male deputy finished seating the other inmates in the jury box, the female stood by the court reporter. Suddenly, Resiles stood up in the jury box and made a run for the door, shedding his jumpsuit along the way. He hit the door, and met with the most resistance he would in the courthouse -- the door couldn’t open fully, hitting people lingering in the hallway on the other side of the door. With a second effort, Resiles muscled into the hallway.

“No one moved,” Celone said. “It was quiet.”

Celone said Judge Singhal commanded, “Order in the court!” and held everyone in the courtroom for 30 minutes. Celone said he saw the lead shackles Resiles escaped from in the jury box.

Israel complained that the county refuses to listen to BSO higher-ups warning that they’re understaffed for the current courthouse and will be well understaffed for the new, larger courthouse being built. That courthouse is expected to open within a few months.

BSO Sheriff Scott Israel addresses the media after murder suspect Dayonte Resiles escapes from the Broward County Courthouse on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Broward Mayor Marty Kiar said in a statement, “Our only focus at this time should be on capturing the escaped inmate and ensuring the safety of the public. Once he has been captured and public safety restored, a full investigation will be done, all of the facts collected and we will determine how and why this occurred and take any corrective action that is necessary.”

Resiles is being prosecuted on six different felony cases in Broward right now — five second-degree felonies involving burglary, grand theft and weapons possession and the Sept. 8, 2014, first degree murder of Jill Su.

Davie Police responding to a possible home invasion call say they found Su’s body on her back in the master bedroom, hands and feet tied, clad only in underwear and having been stabbed numerous times. Police claim DNA on a knife found on a doormat matched Resiles’ DNA.

Su, a member of the Texas-based Halliburton family of vast oil wealth, was married to Nan Yao Su, a University of Florida professor prominent in entomology.

WLRN reporter Wilson Sayre contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information is available.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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