Michigan escaped prisoner wanted ‘second chance’
IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A convicted killer captured in Indiana after a daring one-day escape from a Michigan prison refused to waive extradition Tuesday and said he made a run after 20 years in custody because he “just wanted a second chance.”
Michael David Elliot made his comments as deputies escorted him from an Indiana courtroom where he appeared on a charge of auto theft. He was returned to the LaPorte County jail on a $1 million bond.
In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder demanded an “exhaustive assessment” of how Elliot broke through two fences with his hands Sunday night at the Ionia Correctional Facility. His fellow Republicans who control the Legislature also want to know more, while Democrats claimed budget cuts may have played a role.
Elliot, 40, was arrested Monday in a stolen vehicle in northwestern Indiana, about 24 hours after dashing from prison in the early evening while wearing a white kitchen uniform that may have helped him blend with snow.
Asked how he escaped, Elliot told reporters outside court, “Quick thinking.”
“I just wanted a second chance,” he said.
Elliot is charged with carjacking, kidnapping and escape in Michigan. Michigan officials now have 30 days to formally request that Indiana and a judge send him back, LaPorte County Prosecutor Robert Szilagyi said.
“All we have to show is that it’s correct, that he’s the person in question, and then they can extradite him back to Michigan,” Szilagyi told The Associated Press.
A message seeking comment from Craig Braje, who was appointed to serve as Elliot’s attorney in Indiana, was not immediately returned.
Elliot’s capture ended a wild two-state trek.
He is accused of stealing a Jeep in Ionia with a woman inside. She escaped when they stopped for gas in Elkhart County, Ind., more than 100 miles away from the prison. The Jeep was later found abandoned nearby in Shipshewana, Ind.
By Monday night, Elliot was captured in another stolen vehicle in LaPorte County.
Authorities are now left to sort out exactly how he was able to get out of prison. The fences were equipped with motion sensors to alert guards and also carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them, but Elliot somehow evaded detection.
The Corrections Department turned down a request from The Associated Press for photos of the broken fence, saying their release would hurt security.
“Whatever the questions are that we ask, we need solid answers and a solid understanding of what’s working and not working,” said Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph and chairman of a subcommittee responsible for the prisons budget. “We have 44,000-plus prisoners. ... This one individual found a breach in our systems. That cannot happen and should not happen in the future.”
House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, said the jobs of guards who monitor fence lines have been cut over the past few years.
“Regardless of whether or not this recent escape was directly related to those cuts, it certainly sheds light on why it’s important that we adequately staff prisons,” Greimel said.
A message seeking comment was left with the Corrections Department. During a news conference Monday, director Dan Heyns acknowledged flaws in security and said the escape would be investigated.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old. He and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.