A man sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole escaped from an Alabama correctional facility but took a few minutes from his busy schedule of evading authorities to do a television interview.
On Monday, Ronald Odell King and Antwone Wilson, both 27 years old, escaped the St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Ala., according to AL.com. The Alabama Department of Corrections says that King was serving a 50-year sentence for burglary but noted that he was also convicted of first-degree rape, sexual torture and abuse, and first-degree robbery.
King was later apprehended in Birmingham, Ala., when authorities received a tip on his whereabouts. Law enforcement officials say that King surrendered without incident about 30 miles from the location of the prison from which he escaped.
Wilson, the second escapee, remains at large. While police were furiously trying to find Wilson, he decided to call his hometown television station, WBRC-TV, to give his side of the story. Noting that the station’s motto is “Fox on your side,” Wilson said he thought they might be willing to assist him because he needed the media’s help to clear his name by getting a new trial.
“Basically, I escaped prison because I refuse to sit in prison for a crime I didn’t commit,” Wilson calmly explained. During the almost eight-minute conversation, the fugitive insisted that he was not guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted but feared that he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
“The only reason I escaped, like I said, it’s hard to sit in prison for the rest of your life, falsely accused of a crime you just know you didn’t commit. I have a life-without-parole sentence, so that means I’ll never get out,” he explained.
Wilson was convicted of first-degree robbery in a February 2012 robbery spree that lasted two weeks, including three in one night. He claims to have spent over $20,000 on lawyers trying to appeal his conviction and ask for a new trial, being denied each time. He recounted the judges’ repeated denials to re-examine his case during his call to WBRC.
The formerly incarcerated man refused to reveal how he escaped and said that he was already in California with plans to go to Cuba, but his true desire was to get a new trial: “I got found guilty by a victim just coming to court, getting on the stand and the district attorney said, ‘Can you Identify the person that robbed you?’
“I’m the only person sitting in the courtroom, and the victim pointed at me and said, ‘Oh yeah, this is the person that robbed me,’” Wilson told Beth Shelburne, the news anchor. “I got found guilty for something like that.” Wilson claims that he was convicted with absolutely no physical evidence against him:
If they can agree to give me a fair trial or at least an evidentiary hearing, so I can at least have a chance to prove my innocence... I’ll actually surrender and turn myself in. But until then, I’d rather stay where I’m at and basically just enjoy my life.
Authorities have not yet apprehended Wilson, and he remains at large.
“I hate to say this,” Wilson explained at the end of his interview. “I’d rather be on the run, enjoying my life, looking over my shoulder, than be in prison for the rest of my life for a crime I didn’t commit.”
Watch more at WBRC-TV.