Merced County man escaped courthouse while chained, police say

A 27-year-old man escaped from the courthouse in Los Banos before he was found in a nearby home, police said.

The man, Jaime Zavala of Los Banos, was arrested around 11 a.m. Thursday hiding in the backyard of a home in the 1200 block of G Street, according to Sgt. Jesus Parras.

He was detained on suspicion of being in possession of drug paraphernalia, jail records show.

The following day he was transported to the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center. It wasn’t immediately clear how, but Zavala was able to climb the barbed wire fence and flee from the courthouse while wearing “belly chains,” Parras said.

Officers went to the same home in the 1200 block of G Street where he was originally arrested and found Parras in the living room still in belly chains, police said.

Zavala is held in lieu in $202,000 bail, according to jail records.

Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.