BOISE – One of Idaho’s most infamous outlaws, Claude Dallas, was released from prison Sunday morning after serving 22 years for the execution-style slayings of two state officers in 1981.
Dallas, 54, gained notoriety as both a callous criminal and a modern-day mountain man at odds with the government. He was released Sunday after his 30-year term was cut by eight years for good behavior.
Dallas wore a light blue shirt, prison-issue jeans and a denim jacket as he walked out of the Idaho Correctional Institution in Orofino at 4:55 a.m., said Teresa Jones, an Idaho Department of Correction spokeswoman. He was picked up by a relative.
“He doesn’t want to talk to the media or make a big deal out of his release,” said prison warden Kevin Kempf. “He just wants to go live his life.”
He was convicted of manslaughter in 1982 for the shooting deaths of Conley Elms and Bill Pogue, officers for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game who were investigating reports that Dallas was poaching bobcats in remote southwestern Idaho.
Pogue, who had drawn his own weapon, was hit first with a shot from Dallas’ handgun. Dallas then shot Elms two times in the chest before using a rifle to fire one round into each man’s head.
The case made national headlines and turned Dallas into an anti-government folk hero for some — a reputation heightened by a 1986 jailbreak. Dallas hid for nearly a year before he was caught in Riverside, Calif. He was charged with escape, but was acquitted by a jury after he testified he had to break out because prison guards threatened his life.
Relatives including his brother, William Dallas, and his 85-year-old mother, Jennie Dallas, who live in Charlotte, N.C., didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
Dallas has been the subject of a song, a television movie and at least two books.
Bill Mauk, one of Dallas’ lawyers at the 1982 trial, said he’s exchanged letters once a year with his former client. He said Dallas will likely try to live quietly outside the public spotlight.
“He doesn’t see himself as a figure in that grander landscape in which he’s been painted,” Mauk said last week. “He’s been in a very isolated venue for the last 22 years. He doesn’t read his press clippings. He doesn’t read the books.”
State Fish and Game officers, some of whom worked with Pogue and Elms, said they chose to observe Sunday as a date to remember the slayings, which many in the department still believe should have gotten Dallas a murder conviction.
“We clearly have strong feelings about Claude Dallas,” said former Fish and Game Director Jerry Conley.
Because of the lingering strong feelings about Dallas, prison officials kept the time of day and location of his release secret.
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