Inmates Found Guilty In Youth Kidnapping
OCALA, Fla. (AP) _ Two inmates were convicted Thursday of abducting a high school honor student who said he decided not to contact authorities or try to flee because ″it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.″
The six-member Marion Circuit Court jury deliberated about four hours before finding inmates Patrick Paige, 21, and Anthony Cokley, 23, guilty of one count each of kidnapping and robbery.
Circuit Judge Ray McNeal sentenced both men to 30 years in prison for the robbery and life imprisonment for the Jan. 3 kidnapping of 17-year-old Ted Siegel.
During the three-day trial, the jury heard conflicting testimony on whether the youth willingly assisted in the flight.
Paige and Cokley went on an 11-day crime spree up the East Coast before they were captured in Utah on Jan. 18, four days after Siegel was released in Baltimore.
On Thursday, Paige said he talked Siegel into driving the pair from the Ocala area and the teen was never kidnapped. But Siegel said he was abducted outside his family’s Lowell horse farm after Cokley choked him unconscious.
In more than five hours of testimony Wednesday, Siegel said there were several times along the trip when he could have fled or called for help. But he decided not to contact authorities because he did not feel threatened and he was worried about his mother’s car.
″It didn’t seem like the right thing to do,″ the Ocala high school student told Assistant Public Defender Ed Bonnett. The youth also said he helped the inmates carry goods stolen in burglaries.
Siegel called home on Jan. 4 from the outskirts of Atlanta when Paige suggested it, Siegel said.
Paige claimed he and Cokley snuck out of the Marion Correctional Institution to visit inmates at a nearby women’s facility. They decided to flee the state after they could not get back inside the prison.
Paige said they encountered Siegel outside a convenience store near his home and convinced the youth they were fleeing drug dealers and needed a ride to safety.
After Siegel drove the pair to Gainesville, Paige said he admitted they were escaped prisoners.
″I leveled with him because I felt I owed it to him to tell him because he gave us a ride,″ Paige testified. ″At that point he said he was going to help us out.″
In July, Paige and Cokley were sentenced to 30 years each in prison after pleading guilty to escape charges.