Inmate with 4 months left may get 10 years for escape attempt

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January 3, 2007

JEFFERSON CTY, Ga.---A Jefferson County inmate broke out of jail this morning, taking off with his wife through Richmond County all the way to Walterboro, South Carolina. That's off I-95, halfway between Allendale and Charleston.

29-year-old David Campbell took off with just four and a half months left in jail.

He was in on a probation violation for previous drug charges.

This escape illuminated some problems at the jail, and now the sheriff is making some changes.

Campbell flew the coop around 5 o'clock this morning. Moments later, Campbell's neighbor, Victoria Sims, saw their street flooded with deputies' cars.

"Before we went to the bus stop, they were shining lights on us, and I'm like, 'No way...what's going on?'" she told News 12.

The deputies were in a full-force search for Campbell.

He was a "trusty", meaning he was trusted enough that they allowed him to help clean the jail. Sheriff Gary Hutchins says he was doing just that when it happened.

"It's a normal thing that trusties get to mop, but we're going to be making different arrangements," he told News 12.

Instead of mopping the floors, Campbell headed to the side of the jail, climbed up on the air conditioning box and electrical box, pulled himself onto the roof, and jumped down to freedom. At time of writing, his footprint was still visible on the ground where he landed.

The Sheriff says after Campbell left, he took off through some woods and ended up at a nearby trailer park, where his mother lives.

That's where the sheriff says Campbell's wife Neisa picked him up and drove him about three hours through several counties, including Richmond. They ended up at his dad's house in Colleton County. That's where local deputies were waiting to take him back to jail where he belongs.

"It was a rare thing to happen, and may not never happen at that, but we're going to take precautions that won't happen again," Sheriff Hutchins said.

Those precautions include keeping a closer eye on trusties and fencing and wiring the escape route.

All of that is reassuring for Victoria.

"Basically I was scared cause I didn't know what was going on," she said.

Her neighbor probably won't be back on her street for a long time, possibly for ten years if he serves the maximum sentence for escaping. Before the escape, he only had four months left to serve.

His wife gets a few years less for assisting in the escape.

The sheriff says Campbell will be back in Jefferson County, Georgia by about 9 o'clock tonight.

In October last year, a federal prisoner escaped from the Lincoln County Jail. Terry Carter was then caught in the next county over.

Carter climbed the jail fence after a deputy left his post.