Originally created 05/23/00

Augusta inmate escapes from facility

A county inmate was still at large Monday night, after he took advantage of his position as a jail trusty and a Richmond County deputy's lapse to escape the Law Enforcement Center on Walton Way.

Samuel Clyde Prince III, 33, hid behind a trash bin outside the jail at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday after emptying some kitchen trash with four other inmates, said Maj. Ken Autry of the sheriff's department.

After he heard the door lock behind the other inmates and realized the supervising deputy, Charles G. Harris, did not notice he was missing, Mr. Prince scaled a fence topped with razor wire and leaped to a nearby maintenance building, Maj. Autry said.

Mr. Prince then descended from the top of the building, coming down next to Gordon Highway to complete his escape, Maj. Autry said.

Deputies at the jail noticed Mr. Prince was missing when they did a regular head count at about 10 p.m. Sunday, Maj. Autry said.

Surveillance cameras captured Mr. Prince's escape, said Capt. Gene Johnson, jail supervisor.

The deputy monitoring surveillance did not see the escape because the 32 cameras around the Law Enforcement Center rotate four images at a time every three seconds, Capt. Johnson said.

Mr. Prince had been in jail since January on a burglary charge. He also had a hold on him from the North Augusta Department of Public Safety for a breaking into a motor vehicle warrant.

Capt. Johnson said Mr. Prince had been in the jail several times and had held the position of trusty during some of these previous stints.

"(Mr. Prince) saw an opportunity, and he took advantage of it," Capt. Johnson said.

The escape makes four in the past year at the county's two jails, including one man who escaped twice in a weekend. In each of the previous cases, deputy error was the cause.

Sunday's escape was blamed on Deputy Harris, who took five inmates out to dump trash but returned with only four, Capt. Johnson said.

"We're looking to see how we can prevent this from happening again, but if you have people who aren't doing their jobs, stuff like this is going to happen," he said.

Investigators with the department's internal affairs office also are looking into the escape, Capt. Johnson said.

Reach Mark Mathis at (706) 823-3227 or marmathis@yahoo.com.


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