Escapees await return to local jail

Published 6:54 pm Thursday, September 30, 2010

Five Lincoln County Jail escapees captured in New OrleansWednesday morning have waived extradition and are headed back toBrookhaven, with the sixth runner tied up in a Louisianacourt.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said the bulk of the group whobroke out of the jail around midnight Monday have decided not tofight attempts to bring them home in custody. However, the youngestof the bunch – 16-year-old Austin R. Hart – will have to go throughyouth court in Louisiana before being turned over to localdeputies.

“Even though he’s considered an adult up here, they still have aprocess down there they have to work through because of his age,”Rushing said. “As for the others, we’re waiting on calls now fromJefferson Parish to see when we can come pick them up.”

All six inmates were apprehended at two separate hotels in NewOrleans Wednesday around 5 a.m. and 9:05 a.m., having spent littlemore than a day in freedom. Lincoln County deputies teamed up withU.S. marshals to track them down.

The escapees were Ahmad R. Butler, 22, of 920 Chippewa St.; JamesR. Durr, 33, of 1620 East Nola Road; Austin R. Hart, 16, of 338Bogue Chitto Road; Bobby J. Hudson, 26, of 306 Brister St.; JustinS. Leake, 31, of 2883 Grandview Lane; and Chad M. Wallace, 29, of148 Wakefield Lane.

Hart, the youngest of the group, is facing charges of burglary of amotor vehicle and is being tried as an adult. Butler is facingmurder charges in the June 17 shooting death of McComb’s AnthonyNichols, 21, who was killed near a convenience store on South FirstStreet in Brookhaven.

Durr is charged with grand larceny of personal property, and theremaining three inmates face various drug charges.

All six were awaiting trial when they broke free from a third-storywindow on the jail’s east side facing Second Street, using bedsheets as a rope to climb down.

Rushing said the group likely had help making the 100-mile trip toNew Orleans and charges for an accomplice may be coming soon.

“Based on initial reports, we believe someone picked them up. We’reworking to determine exactly who, and where that occurred, how theygot down there,” he said. “I do foresee an arrest in the imminentfuture.”

When the inmates are transported back to Lincoln County, all sixwill face charges of escape, which carries a maximum penalty offive years in prison.

They’ll be housed in the Lincoln County Jail again, but theiraccommodations will be a little different.

“We are making arrangements for them,” said Rushing, who did notelaborate.