10 years in prison for man who aided in failed Fla. jail escape
If the escape had been successful, 40 inmates could have made it out
By Austin L. Miller
Ocala Star-Banner, Fla.
OCALA, Fla. — Testimony presented in court about an attempted escape at the Marion County Jail several months ago revealed that if the mission had been successful, then 40 inmates could have made it out.
That number of inmates running around would have posed a significant danger to the community, stretched law enforcement resources thin and threatened surrounding areas, according to additional statements made in court.
Joshua "Blue" Douglas Haynes, one of three people accused of either being involved in or knowing about the daring venture, told Circuit Judge Gary Sanders that he wasn't thinking clearly at the time of the July incident.
Haynes, speaking via video link from the Marion County Jail at his sentence hearing on Tuesday, told the judge that law enforcement and State Attorney's Office officials were giving him too much credit for his role in the unsuccessful escape.
While Haynes told the court he should be punished for his part in the ill-fated caper, Haynes said putting him away for a long time won't be beneficial to him.
Despite Haynes' request, the judge declined to give him much of a break. Instead, Haynes will serve a 10-year prison term.
By choosing to enter an open plea, with no sentencing agreement in place with prosecutors, Haynes was at the mercy of the judge, who could have given the 22-year-old Ocala man anywhere from a minimum of 78 months behind bars to a maximum of 100 years.
Haynes not only faced charges of attempted escape, conspiracy to commit escape and principal to burglary of a dwelling, but also grand theft, burglary of a conveyance and aggravating fleeing or attempting to elude police.
Haynes' lawyer, Michelle Bui of Tampa, asked the judge to consider a downward departure — a reduced sentence — for her client. Appearing by phone, Bui told the judge that Haynes is a follower, not a violent offender. He also is remorseful for his minor role in the failed jail break and is a good person.
At the conclusion of testimony provided by several people, including Haynes' mother and grandmother, Sanders said he could not justify a downward departure. He said Haynes was an active participant, was not under any pressure, and knew what he was doing was wrong.
The judge told Haynes that he has made a lot of mistakes and must own up to them. He said Haynes should complete his education while in prison, and doesn't want to see him again in a courtroom.
Marion County Sheriff's Office officials said in mid-July, former jail inmate Alexander Wayne Phillip used bolt cutters to cut fencing at the jail. He entered the compound, went to a housing area and, using an ax, repeatedly banged against a window.
Law enforcement officials said Haynes placed a mattress against the window to muffle the sound and tried to prevent anyone from seeing what was going on.
Phillip's action was interrupted by unsuspecting detention deputies conducting a head count. Phillip left. Hours later, a maintenance worker saw the holes in the fence and notified authorities. Deputies then found a bag with tools.
Investigators said Haynes was uncooperative during interviews. Deputies were able to find Phillip and arrest him in Sumter County.
Another inmate, Ronald Hasty, also was implicated in the foiled attempt. Both Hasty and Phillip remain at the jail, and their court cases are pending.
The Sheriff's Office launched an investigation into the matter and a detention deputy was disciplined for not conducting security checks at the time of the incident.
Security measures have been implement since the attempted escape, officials said.
At Tuesday's hearing, Assistant State Attorney Elizabeth White told the judge while she was non-committal on how much time Haynes should serve in prison, she pointed to Haynes' criminal record of two felonies and five misdemeanors. White said Haynes had previous offenses where he was given a break, and thus shouldn't be considered for a downward departure this time.
White said several inmates said Haynes participated in the escape planning. In a phone conversation with a woman, he talked about a plan to get out of jail.
Tim McCourt, a former prosecutor and now staff attorney at the sheriff's office, said had the plan been successful, 40 inmates would've made it out. He called that a public safety disaster. He said a sheriff employee saw the backpack and bolt cutters and alerted other personnel. He said the attempted escape wasn't discovered until hours after the incident.
McCourt said Haynes did not provide any information that could've been helpful to law enforcement officials trying to figure what happened. He said Haynes should receive a length prison term base on his criminal history.
Haynes' mother, Susan Haynes, said she believes her son can be helped. She said he has a strong family support system once he's released and she never had any issues with him growing up.
(c)2020 the Ocala Star-Banner (Ocala, Fla.)