HEADLINE: Escaped prisoner eludes capture; Police comb area after fugitive flees county courthouse; Ran barefoot into woods; Ellicott City
BYLINE: Julie Bykowicz
SOURCE: SUN STAFF
BODY: With shackles trailing from one of his ankles and handcuffs dangling from one wrist, a barefoot 20-year-old led Howard County police on an extended chase last night after he fled the court commissioner's office where he was being charged with a probation violation.
The man ran right out of his shoes as he slipped past two guards and into thick woods north of the Howard County District Court on Court House Drive in Ellicott City, police said.
J.C. Porter, 20, whose last known address was in the 6600 block of Pirch Way in Elkridge, wriggled out of his leg irons shortly after 5 p.m. Police, assisted by police dogs from Howard and Baltimore counties, continued their search for Porter late last night. While at the courthouse, a sockless Porter complained to a guard that the shackle was rubbing against his bare ankle, causing it to bleed, said county police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn. Porter kicked one of his legs out of the restraint as a guard was loosening it, she said.
The two guards, employed by county-contracted Wackenhut Security, chased Porter, who fled the building and slipped into the woods, Llewellyn said. Police thought he might have been heading to his mother's or girlfriend's house, both of which are in Howard County.
Porter's escape comes a year and a day after burglary suspect Thomas Rudolph Jordan escaped after he appeared before a bail commissioner in the same building. Jordan, whose transport to and from the district courthouse was also overseen by Wackenhut, was captured about 20 minutes later in the vicinity of the courthouse.
Most people arrested in Howard County are booked at the police department's Southern District building in Scaggsville and then transported 10 miles to the district courthouse to see a commissioner, who decides whether prisoners are eligible for bail and sets the amount.
"It's not the way they are transported that is the problem," Llewellyn said. "The fact that they need to be transported is the concern."
After last year's escape, Howard police Chief Wayne Livesay began investigating the cost and practicality of housing a full-time court commissioner at the Southern District, Llewellyn said.
Within 30 to 60 days from now, a commissioner will always be available at the Southern District, Llewellyn said, eliminating the need for transports. Violent offenders are escorted by county police to and from the district courthouse, Llewellyn said. Howard County has no record of violent acts committed by Porter, she said.
Porter was arrested by county police Sunday at Parkway Motel on Route 175, over the Anne Arundel County line. Court records indicate that Porter had violated probation by failing to report to his probation agent, failing to undergo a urinalysis and by not completing a required health program.
Porter has racked up numerous other charges:
The two most recent, from February and June, were fugitive-from-justice cases from Pennsylvania.
In November 1999, he was charged in Howard County with 55 counts of malicious destruction, four counts of second-degree arson, second-degree burning and fourth-degree burning.
In August 1999, he was charged in Howard County with marijuana possession. In September 1999, he was c