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Houston jail lets man scheduled for execution walk

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  • Houston jail lets man scheduled for execution walk

    from the Houston Chronicle.



    Four or five deputies – and possibly more – had opportunities to stop condemned murderer Charles Victor Thompson before he walked out of the Harris County Jail, a sheriff's spokesman said today.

    As the hunt for the 35-year-old Tomball man widened, Lt. John Martin said Thompson encountered deputies in at least three places in the downtown jail as he made his way to freedom.

    "This was 100 percent human error. That's the most frustrating thing about it," Martin said. "There were multiple failures. There were several points where it could have been prevented."

    The Sheriff's Department has launched a sweeping internal investigation to determine how Thompson managed to dupe the jail staff and slip through what are supposed to be stringent security measures. Martin said disciplinary action against employees, if any is warranted, will be taken only after the investigation has ended.

    Authorities also are trying to determine how Thompson was able to smuggle back to his cell the civilian clothes he wore in his final court appearance, when he was sentenced to death on Oct. 28 for the second time. He somehow changed into them on Thursday before walking out about 3:30 p.m., Martin said.

    All of the jail employees who were working when Thompson escaped remained on the job today, officials said.

    While the department may not have all the answers right now, it will have them soon, said Chief Deputy Danny Billingsley.

    "As a department, we're embarrassed about this," Billingsley said. "We're going to find out what happened, and we're going to fix it.

    "We were fully staffed when this happened," he added. "We will not blame it on staffing. It was not a manpower issue."

    Thompson already had spent six years on Texas' death row for the 1998 shootings of his ex-girlfriend, Dennise Hayslip, and her new boyfriend, Darren Cain. He was in Houston for a new sentencing trial, ordered by the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

    That trial resulted in a jury's decision last week to reaffirm his death sentence.

    Thompson was still in the jail at 1200 Baker when he received a visit from an attorney at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, Martin said. He was escorted from his cell to a locked room, where he talked with the attorney through a glass window, Martin said.

    The visitor, whose name Martin could not immediately provide, was not Thompson's attorney of record.

    "I'm not clear on what was the purpose of that attorney's visit," Martin said.

    Thompson and his visitor would have been separated by a window with "literally a slit at the bottom," through which nothing thicker than a sheet of paper could be passed, Martin said. He said Thompson's hands were cuffed in front of his body, so he could sign paperwork, if necessary.

    The visitation booths do not have surveillance cameras, and deputies do not stand outside the doors to monitor what's happening, Martin said. Thompson, however, was somehow able to leave the booth on his own.

    Martin was not sure whether Thompson had been locked inside the attorney visitation booth, as is required, but he said the prisoner remained there for almost two hours before leaving. Left behind in the booth were his handcuffs and the orange jumpsuit typically worn by County Jail inmates.

    Thompson walked out wearing the outfit he wore on his last day in court, Martin said — a dark-blue shirt, khaki pants and white tennis shoes.

    Prisoners are not allowed to have such civilian clothing in their cells, he said.

    Thompson approached a "floor control center" booth, where deputies control access from the secure side of the jail to the public access area frequented by visitors, Martin said. He told a deputy he was with the state Attorney General's Office and was conducting an investigation.

    The deputy told Thompson he could not exit on that floor, the second, and would need to go to the first floor, Martin said. Thompson then rode down in an elevator in the secured area andwent to another control booth, where he told another deputy he was with the Attorney General's Office, Martin said.

    That deputy and another officer then asked Thompson why he didn't have a Sheriff's Department's security tag. He told them he had entered the building through a tunnel from another county jail across the street, Martin said.

    One of the deputies then took Thompson outside the secured area, into the lobby, Martin said. That area has surveillance cameras, he said, but they are not capable of recording.

    "The inmate says, 'My partner's outside waiting on me. Let me run outside and tell him what's going on. We'll get this straightened out.' Apparently, they allowed him to walk out," Martin said.

    After a short time, he said, the deputies realized they had been duped.

    Internal affairs investigators will interview all jail personnel who had direct contact with Thompson, Martin said. They also will question other inmates who may have information or witnessed the escape and visitors in the jail lobby who saw him when he walked out.

    Death row inmates who are brought to the Harris County Jail to await court proceedings in Houston typically are kept in the highest-security cell blocks and are not placed in the general population, Martin said. They have their own cells and are allowed out of that space only for short periods, but never while another inmate is out, he said.

    Many death row inmates also are placed in leg irons when removed from their cells, but Thompson, for some reason, was not, Martin said.

    The Sheriff's Office and the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force are receiving a significant number of leads about Thompson, Martin said.

    Authorities had issued a bulletin alerting officers to watch for a Nissan Frontier pickup belonging to Thompson's father because it was not immediately found when officers checked the whereabouts of the family's vehicles. The pickup was found today, however, and there was no indication that Thompson had used it, Martin said.

    "We have no way of knowing if he's still in the Houston area or if he intends to flee," Martin said.

    Although there was speculation that someone had helped Thompson escape, Martin said, "we don't have conclusive evidence to suggest that."

    As for the attorney who visited Thompson, he is considered only a "possible witness," Martin said. Sheriff's officials would not release the attorney's name.

    Sheriff's officials said they could not immediately provide statistics on how many escapes have taken place in recent years at the various County Jail facilities.

    But Thompson's escape is unusual because inmates have rarely escaped from inside such institutions. Most other escapees got away while being transferred, or walked away while outside the buildings on trusty work details. Almost none had criminal histories as serious as Thompson's.

    "This is fairly unique in that he escaped from inside the facility," Martin said.
    Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

    Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
    God is stronger and the problem knows it.

    2017 BOTB bracket

  • #2
    someone's gonna get fired

    Comment


    • #3
      QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

      someone's gonna get fried
      [/b][/quote]

      *fixed
      Official Lounge Sponsor of:
      Brett Hull & St. Patricks Day

      Comment


      • #4
        QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Nov 4 2005, 10:55 PM) Quoted post

        QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

        someone's gonna get fried
        [/b][/quote]

        *fixed
        [/b][/quote]
        i wasn't even thinking that he'll be taken alive actually.

        Comment


        • #5
          QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 10:58 PM) Quoted post
          QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Nov 4 2005, 10:55 PM) Quoted post

          QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

          someone's gonna get fried
          [/b][/quote]

          *fixed
          [/b][/quote]
          i wasn't even thinking that he'll be taken alive actually. [/b][/quote]

          Man - I hope they get him before he adds to his body count.
          Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

          Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
          God is stronger and the problem knows it.

          2017 BOTB bracket

          Comment


          • #6
            QUOTE(Schwahalala @ Nov 4 2005, 08:04 PM) Quoted post

            QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 10:58 PM) Quoted post
            QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Nov 4 2005, 10:55 PM) Quoted post

            QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

            someone's gonna get fried
            [/b][/quote]

            *fixed
            [/b][/quote]
            i wasn't even thinking that he'll be taken alive actually. [/b][/quote]

            Man - I hope they get him before he adds to his body count.
            [/b][/quote]

            Would it make me a bad person if I said here I hope he runs into Brad Lidge??? [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif[/img]
            OFFICIAL LOUNGE SPONSOR OF INDEPENDENT MUSIC
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            Comment


            • #7
              QUOTE(Schwahalala @ Nov 4 2005, 11:04 PM) Quoted post

              QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 10:58 PM) Quoted post
              QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Nov 4 2005, 10:55 PM) Quoted post

              QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

              someone's gonna get fried
              [/b][/quote]

              *fixed
              [/b][/quote]
              i wasn't even thinking that he'll be taken alive actually. [/b][/quote]

              Man - I hope they get him before he adds to his body count.
              [/b][/quote]
              no joke. that's the scary part, this guy has nothing to lose

              Comment


              • #8
                QUOTE(Blues Fan in SF @ Nov 4 2005, 11:06 PM) Quoted post
                QUOTE(Schwahalala @ Nov 4 2005, 08:04 PM) Quoted post

                QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 10:58 PM) Quoted post
                QUOTE(BlueBrained @ Nov 4 2005, 10:55 PM) Quoted post

                QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 4 2005, 09:54 PM) Quoted post

                someone's gonna get fried
                [/b][/quote]

                *fixed
                [/b][/quote]
                i wasn't even thinking that he'll be taken alive actually. [/b][/quote]

                Man - I hope they get him before he adds to his body count.
                [/b][/quote]

                Would it make me a bad person if I said here I hope he runs into Brad Lidge??? [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif[/img] [/b][/quote]

                As long as Lidge had his 97 mph slider aimed at the guys head or groin.
                Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

                Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
                God is stronger and the problem knows it.

                2017 BOTB bracket

                Comment


                • #9
                  When you put everybody on death row, somebody is bound to get out.

                  There are only 4 or 5 people actually out of prison.
                  From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.

                  For more than 20 years I have endeavored-indeed, I have struggled-along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural & substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor.


                  I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.

                  The path the Court has chosen lessens us all. I dissent.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    dude has been caught in shreveport, la

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      QUOTE(MsFunkay @ Nov 6 2005, 09:27 PM) Quoted post
                      dude has been caught in shreveport, la [/b][/quote]

                      Thank God - He should expect Hannibel Lector treatment from now on.


                      The genuis was caught drunk and riding a bike.
                      Turning the other cheek is better than burying the other body.

                      Official Sport Lounge Sponsor of Rhode Island - Quincy Jones - Yadier Molina who knows no fear.
                      God is stronger and the problem knows it.

                      2017 BOTB bracket

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        QUOTE(ppg shg @ Nov 4 2005, 11:11 PM) Quoted post

                        When you put everybody on death row, somebody is bound to get out.

                        There are only 4 or 5 people actually out of prison.
                        [/b][/quote]

                        I have a solution.

                        Instead of getting the death penalty...convicted murders should have to watch an entire season of Mizzou basketball with Quinn Snyder as coach....every freaking second.

                        Alas, that probably could be considered cruel and unusual punishment but it's much cheaper and quite likely more of a deterrent.


                        [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif[/img]
                        Go Cards ...12 in 13.


                        Comment

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