UPDATED "Picasso Vandal" Uriel Landeros Turns Himself In
Uriel Landeros, who fled Houston after vandalizing Pablo Picasso's Woman in a Red Armchair last June at the Menil Collection -- and then gloated about it on social media -- has surrendered to authorities.
According to several news reports, U.S. Marshals took Landeros into custody at the international bridge in McAllen during an arrangement orchestrated by Landeros's lawyer, Emily Detoto. News wires are also reporting that Landeros is currently being held at the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office and could be extradited to Harris County soon.
Art Attack reached out to the Menil Collection on Tuesday night for a reaction, but they declined to comment. "We have none for now," says Vance Muse of the Menil. "[We] need to know more of what has actually happened or will happen."
As was previously reported by Art Attack, Landeros, who has been charged by the Houston Police Department with criminal mischief and felony graffiti, could face serious fines and/or jail time.
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Update, 1:30 p.m.: This morning, Art Attack spoke to a Houston Police Department representative, who said that arrangements haven't been made in the extradition of Landeros back to Houston, where he faces two third-degree felony charges.
Art Attack also spoke to Juan Lara of the U.S. Marshals in McAllen. On January 2, according to Lara, Landeros contacted the Houston District Attorney's office and requested surrender. From there, arrangements were made between Landeros's attorney Emily Detoto and the U.S. Marshals division in McAllen.
On Tuesday, Landeros gave himself up at the U.S.-Mexico port of entry in Hidalgo. ("He had fled to a friend's place in Mexico," says Lara.) As of Wednesday afternoon, Landeros remained in the Hidalgo County jail.
Detoto, a Houston-based criminal defense lawyer representing Landeros, tells Art Attack that she began contacting Landeros via Facebook in August, but that he didn't return the messages for months.
On November 12, Detoto says that Landeros rang her from a phone number in Mexico. That's when she began urging the 22-year-old to stop running.
"I was afraid for his safety," explains Detoto. "With these charges that he's facing -- and his fame and notoriety -- his family and I were afraid that somebody in Mexico would kidnap and hold him hostage for ransom. I believe that was a realistic possibility."
Art Attack also attempted to procure a statement from the Menil Collection, the scene of Landeros's (alleged) crime, but they're not ready to talk just yet.
Update, 2:45 p.m.: Uriel Landeros's attorney, Emily Detoto, expects her client to return to Houston by week's end.
"Hidalgo County is just waiting for Harris County to come pick him up," says Detoto, who adds that a Hidalgo County judge set Landeros's bond at $500,000 ($250,000 for each felony charge).
Detoto, who has defended other higher-profile offenders such as notorious polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs and convicted killer Clara Harris, acknowledges that the time Landeros chose to be a fugitive (nearly six months) won't do him any favors.
"As a former prosecuting attorney, there's an adage that a guilty person runs and a not-guilty person stays," explains Detoto. "The amount of time and money spent looking for him will also work against him."
Detoto, a Rio Grande Valley native who was referred to the Landeros case by lawyers in south Texas, met face-to-face with Landeros's parents this afternoon in Houston.
"They are obviously very worried...it's my job to give him the best representation."
Update, 2:15 p.m. Thursday: Today, Menil Collection Director Josef Helfenstein gave Art Attack a statement regarding the Landeros affair.
"An act of vandalism against one museum is an attack on all museums -- and violates the trust that we hold with the public. We are pleased that the legal authorities are able to move forward in prosecuting this serious crime."
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