A Wooten man was found guilty of escape in Harlan Circuit Court on Tuesday, with the jury recommending a two-year prison sentence.
David S. Combs, 31, appeared in front of Harlan Circuit Judge Kent Hendrickson to answer a charge of second-degree escape.
According to the indictment, Combs escaped from custody on July 15. He escaped from court security while being transported to the Harlan County Detention Center.
Harlan County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Matt Cope presented evidence to the grand jury resulting in the indictment which was handed down on Sept. 22.
The citation states Combs was being transported from the jail to Harlan Circuit Court. He was handcuffed and shackled. When Combs arrived back at HCDC, his leg shackles had been removed enabling him to flee. A straightened paper clip was located in the area of the vehicle in which he had been sitting. Combs ran off down a river bank, but was taken back into custody.
According to a press release, Harlan County Sheriff’s Deputy Kim Short was called to the stand to testify by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jonathan Lee. Short testified that Combs had freed himself from his ankle shackles during a short transport from the Harlan Circuit Courtroom to the Harlan County Detention Center. As Combs began to exit a Sheriff’s Office vehicle, he threw his shackles to the ground and fled from the jail towards the river. Lee then called Harlan County Detention Sgt. Justin Earley to the stand. Earley testified that he began to chase Combs through the grounds of the Detention Center towards the river in an effort to apprehend him. However, Earley informed the jury that before he could reach him, Combs jumped into the river and began to move away from the Detention Center, aided by a swift current.
The release states Lee asked Earley if Combs’ actions placed him in danger. Earley informed the jury they had. Earley testified the river had swollen with water from rains that had recently fallen and the current was extreme due to near flood conditions. As he pursued Combs further down river, Earley stated that he was forced to run alongside the river, attempting to avoid fallen limbs and a flooded river bank. Kentucky State Police Det. Josh Howard, was called to the stand by Lee to testify concerning his role in the apprehension of the escaped inmate. Howard stated he learned of the escape while conducting other business at the Detention Center. After learning of the escape, Howard exited the building and travelled approximately one mile away from the Detention Center in an effort to get in front of Combs as he fled. Howard’s maneuver was successful and he was able to locate Combs on the railroad tracks near Ages and place him back into custody. Howard then testified he turned Combs back over to the custody of the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office.
The release additionally states Combs took the stand in his own defense. Under cross examination by Lee, Combs admitted he placed the pursuing law enforcement agents in danger as he fled from the Detention Center and escaped from custody.
Combs is set to be sentenced on March 2.
In other court activity, Josh Shanks, 35, entered a guilty plea on multiple charges in exchange for seven years in prison.
Shanks entered a plea of guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and theft by deception under $500. A count of first-degree persistent felony offender was amended to second-degree persistent felony offender.
According to the indictment, Shanks was in possession of a forged instrument on June 24 and June 29. He also cashed a $400 check at Food City knowing the check would not be honored. He was previously convicted on felony indictment in Harlan Circuit Court on Feb. 27, 2008, Nov. 5, 2012, and May 13.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Michael Cornett presented the evidence to the grand jury resulting in the indictment.
Sentencing is set for March 2.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde