Court was ready to start Monday in York on a trial of an alleged repeat drug dealer, but the courtroom lacked one important part – the defendant.
A defendant who had escaped, police say.
Travis Semaj Hutchinson, 37, whom prosecutors said has 10 previous drug convictions, faced charges of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine and escape.
In September, after his arrest on the most recent drug charges, police say Hutchinson escaped from custody while on the way from the Rock Hill Police Department to the York County jail.
Hutchinson manipulated the lock of the transport van in the September escape, then leaped out of the moving van and ran, said Marina Hamilton, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor. Hutchinson was found hiding in a rural barn near the courthouse in York, with the handcuffs he had slipped off a transport van pole still attached to his arm.
Hutchinson, with past felony drug convictions, was looking at the possibility of up to four decades in prison if he was found guilty at trial. He had been out on $50,000 bond since November after the September arrest for escape, records show.
Trial was set for Monday afternoon. Hutchinson appeared for roll call in the morning Monday, Hamilton said, but was nowhere to be found in the afternoon when his case was called for trial. A judge issued a bench warrant for Hutchinson’s arrest, court records show.
A bail bondsman found Hutchinson around 10 p.m. Monday at a Rock Hill home. Hutchinson was then returned to custody at the York County jail.
Surrounded by courthouse deputies, Hutchinson had no choice but to leave a holding cell and go to court Tuesday. He opted to avoid a trial and pleaded guilty to the two drug charges and escape.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, said Hamilton the prosecutor.