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Official: Grand jury to consider escape charges



Published: Sat, October 21, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The inmate is charged with killing a police officer in Chillicothe in 2005.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- A grand jury will consider escape charges next week against an inmate captured almost three months after escaping from a jail where he was held awaiting a death penalty trial, a prosecutor said.

Mike Ater, assistant Ross County prosecutor, said Friday he also expects one or more indictments against people suspected of helping John W. Parsons survive since his July 29 escape from the county jail in Chillicothe. He said investigators have information involving specific individuals. He wouldn't identify them.

Parsons was captured Thursday after the owners of a Chillicothe-area lumberyard called police after seeing signs someone was living in a nearby shack.

Parsons is charged with killing Larry Cox, a police officer in the southern Ohio city, in April 2005. After his arrest, residents cheered in the street and called friends on their cell phones simply to say, "Hey, they caught him!"

More charges

Ater said his office is willing to hear from people about their involvement with Parsons before they bring charges.

"If people want to come to us before we come to them and say, 'Hey, this is why I did what I did,' we'll certainly take that into account in deciding whether to charge and what to charge," Ater said.

Prosecutors will present evidence Friday for an escape charge and possibly a breaking and entering charge against Parsons, Ater said. The possible breaking and entering charge relates to suspicion that Parsons lived for a while in a fishing cabin.

Parson's mother was indicted on two counts of obstruction of justice related to his disappearance and has pleaded innocent. Documents filed with search warrants issued after his escape say he called her from jail and told her to prepare for his arrival.

Parsons, 35, is in good health and spirits though considerably thinner than when he escaped, his Columbus attorney said Friday.

What's next?

Attorney David Stebbins said he met with Parsons at the Correctional Reception Center in nearby Orient on Friday. Parsons is being held in a state prison because his escape violated his parole from a previous conviction.

They discussed only details of his case and when and where his trial might be held, Stebbins said.

Parsons fled from the jail's rooftop recreation area by crawling through two rolls of razor-sharp concertina wire, shimmying up a chain link fence and slipping through a gap between the top of the fence and the roof. A report on the escape determined that no guards were watching the recreation area when Parson slipped away in the middle of the day.

The phone for Debra Flesher, Parsons' mother, has been disconnected, and there was no answer Friday at her attorney's office.

Family members told a minister who had visited Parsons in jail before his escape that they were relieved he was back safely.

"There's no one hurt and no injuries, no bloodshed -- just relief it's over," the Rev. Randall Rinehart said Friday.




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