Seconds after being sentenced to a year and a half in prison, Todd Raynard Neal lit out on a flight for freedom, a daring -- that coveredthree levels of the county courthouse before he was coralled by sheriff's deputies.
The not-so-great attempted escape began Friday morning after Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.sentenced Neal to prison on three counts of burglary. The judge gave Neal a three-year sentence, butgave him credit for 18 months served while awaiting trial.
In July, after he had pleaded guilty to the break-ins, Neal had been released on his own recognizance pending sentencing -- hence the absence of shackles on his feet when he appeared in court Friday.
Once the judge had handed down his sentence, the 27-year-old Glen Burnie man was told, as is custom, to have a seat on a bench at the sideof the courtroom. But, with no chains to bind him, Neal ignored the two sheriff's deputies in the courtroom and bolted.
Warren W. Davis III, the prosecutor in the case, said, "After looking around a few times, he sprinted out the back door (of the courtroom). Papers were flying."
Neal ran from the courtroom and down a flight of stairs, where he collided with Ken Swann, a court security officer manning the metal detector at the courthouse's Church Circle entrance. J. Patrick Ogle, county undersheriff, said Swann tripped Neal and sat on him,but Neal managed to break free and take off down the first-floor hallway.
He made it down another flight of stairs and, apparently sensing daylight, headed down a hallway in the basement level of the courthouse. But Neal only made it as far as the snack bar before deputies Michael Donohoe, Chuck Brown and Leroy Green captured him, Ogle said.
Donohoe, who was punched during the attempted escape, was swornin as a sheriff's deputy only two weeks ago, Ogle said. Donohoe and Swann were treated for minor injuries at Anne Arundel General Hospital and Medical Center.
Ogle said yesterday Neal will be charged with escape and two counts of assault. Two other attempted escapes at the courthouse in the past two years have been thwarted.
In one incident two years ago, a man fled from the courthouse after being sentenced to jail for failing to pay child support. After his capture, the man told authorities he had not been attempting to escape, but had been merely looking for an automatic teller machine.