Inmate escapes 1 day ahead of release (maybe he needed a drink?)

GRAYSON, CValif. — An inmate who was scheduled to be released from jail Friday escaped from the Stanislaus County Men's Honor Farm on Thursday morning, a Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman said.

About 10:30 a.m., Silbestre Penaloza Menera, 32, of Modesto escaped through a gate that was opening to let a vehicle leave the Honor Farm property, said deputy Royjindar Singh.

He said Menera had just finished eating lunch and was returning to the inmate yard when he ran out of the minimum-security facility through the opened gate.

The inmates are housed in military-style barracks and are assigned to crews to work at the facility and off site.

Deputies chased Menera but lost sight of him when he ran into a cornfield with stalks as high as 9 feet tall, Singh said.

The deputies quickly created a perimeter around the cornfield and waited for a sheriff's K-9 unit and a sheriff's helicopter to arrive and join the manhunt.

While other deputies remained on the perimeter, the helicopter and the K-9 unit searched the cornfield for about two hours, Singh said.

Menera was booked at the jail Wednesday after being remanded from court. Singh said Menera had been sentenced to serve five days with two days' credit for time already served on charges of driving under the influence and was scheduled to be released Friday.

Menera also had a second driving under influence case pending in the court system. Singh said Menera was charged on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence in both cases.

Menera was wearing jail-issued blue jeans and a blue shirt with "Stanislaus County Jail" or "Honor Farm" in white letters on the shirt, but authorities one Friday they are no longer actively pursuing him. But if they encounter him, they will arrest him, a sheriff's spokesman said.