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Not Guilty Plea in Dog Crate Case

December 7, 2006

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) _ A convicted murderer accused of escaping from prison by hiding in a dog crate pleaded not guilty to charges on Wednesday.

John Michael Manard, 28, is charged with aggravated escape from a state correctional facility and trafficking contraband in a correctional institution.

The crate, used to transport animals for an inmate rehabilitation program, was loaded into a Safe Harbor van by other inmates at the Lansing Correctional Facility on Feb. 12.

The van was driven from the prison by Toby Young, who volunteered as president of the Safe Harbor dog program. Manard and Young were apprehended Feb. 24 in Tennessee.

Manard’s contraband charge stems from a cell phone Young is said to have brought to the inmate prior to the escape.

Young, 48, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting aggravated escape and trafficking contraband. She was sentenced in July to 21 months in prison.

Manard’s attorney, Terry Lober, said his client could be sentenced to 10 to 12 years if convicted.

Manard is serving a life sentence for murder. A pretrial hearing in the escape case was scheduled for Jan. 10.

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