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2 would-be escapees caught on Tucson prison grounds

Two prisoners serving life sentences at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson tried to escape Thursday but were caught on the grounds, a state Department of Corrections news release said.

Inmates Joshua Aston, 22, and John Wells, 48, have been transferred to maximum security at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Eyman in Florence, according to the release.

The pair set off an alarm near a perimeter fence about 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to DOC. By 3 a.m. Thursday, both had been caught.

Arizona Department of Corrections investigators are trying to piece together how Aston and Wells got as far as they did in the escape attempt, said Bill Lamoreaux, a Corrections spokesman.

Aston is serving a life sentence for murder.

Wells has been imprisoned here for 11 years after being transferred from a Maryland prison, where he was serving time for three armed robberies and three escapes.

Aston was admitted to the Department of Corrections in May 2007, the statement said. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder by a Maricopa Superior Court jury in March 2007 for the killing of Pedro Corzo.

Corzo, 35, a manager for Del Monte Fresh Produce, was killed in January 2004 while visiting remote farms in the western part of the county.

He was driving on a road between Dateland and Harquahala Valley when he encountered a roadblock of boulders, according to sheriff’s deputies.

When he got out of his car to clear the rocks away, he was shot by Justin Harrison. Aston, Harrison’s cousin, also was accused of shooting Corzo.

Investigators believed the shooting was part of a bizarre odyssey in which Aston, accompanied by Harrison and a younger brother, left their homes near St. Louis and drove to Arizona with an apparent intent to engage in crime. They were arrested near Billings, Mont., a few days after the killing.

In May 2005, Harrison, 26, was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder in a deal to sidestep the death penalty.

Aston, who was 16 when Corzo was killed, escaped the death penalty in 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court banned death sentences for people who commit murder while juveniles.

Details of Wells’ crimes were not available, said Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Maryland prison system.

Vernarelli said he did not have information on why Wells was transferred here, but Vernarelli said Wells had been in prison on and off in Maryland, serving time on a variety of convictions since he was 19 years old.

Maryland routinely transfers prisoners to other states for various reasons under what are called interstate compacts, Vernarelli said.

The Arizona Republic contributed to this article.

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