Jerry Dickey is a convicted killer from North Carolina who is known to clerks at Family Dollar stores in two states for the white patch at the front of his tightly cropped black hair.
Clerks see the white spot and reach for the phone, for the speed dial for 911.
Dickey once escaped from prison, York County prosecutor Matthew Hogge told a judge this week, has 11 convictions for theft on his record, and was arrested in August after leading police on a 100-mph chase across two states. That chase commenced, Hogge said, after Dickey shoplifted everything he could stuff into his pants from a Family Dollar on Main Street in Clover.
Miraculously, Dickey, 41, did not slam into the dozens of vehicles he passed during that high-speed chase.
Never miss a local story.
Whenever Hogge mentioned Dickey’s name in court Wednesday, there was an empty chair at the defense table. Dickey was not there. He did not show up for trial, after having been free on $4,500 bond since November.
Back in August at the store, Hogge told the jury, Dickey wore two pairs of pants – the bottoms of both tied off with panty hose to keep $100 worth of loot from falling out. He was finally caught in North Carolina after a police chase captured on a dashcam video.
The jury convicted Dickey of shoplifting enhanced – which means he had at least two previous convictions for property crimes in the past 10 years – and fleeing from police in the trial at the Moss Justice Center with visiting Circuit Court Judge Robin Stillwell of Greenville.
Dickey still is uncaught.
“He was here the day before” Wednesday’s trial, said Hogge, the 16th Circuit assistant solicitor. “He knew the trial was scheduled, but he didn’t show up and we don’t know where he is.
“He should be considered dangerous.”
It is rare, but not unheard of, Hogge said, that a defendant will not show up for court, but the trial goes on without him.
The defendant is told, repeatedly, he said, that he must show up for court or face arrest or trial in his absence.
Dickey, who has been in dozens of courtrooms in his life and has been convicted in at least a dozen of them, opted to sit this latest one out.
Because trials can only be about the crime at hand, not a defendant’s past, Hogge could not tell the jury this week that Dickey had served seven years in prison for murder, that he had escaped from prison, and that after he was paroled he had committed so many other crimes.
He could only tell Judge Stillwell about Dickey’s record after the jury convicted him.
Hogge asked for the maximum sentence of 13 years in prison for Dickey, but Stillwell sealed the sentence because Dickey was not there.
Nobody but the judge knows how much time Dickey got for his latest crimes.
Members of the jury, having completed their duty of deciding guilt or not, remained for sentencing. They sat stunned as Hogge told the judge about Dickey’s record of stealing, escape, murder, gun possession, common law robbery and more.
Jurors had thought the case was just panty hose and stolen clothes and a police chase – because that is all the law allowed Hogge to tell them.
Their jaws dropped as they heard Hogge say the shoplifter had spent much of his life in jails and prisons.
And now he was gone.
Stillwell immediately ordered an arrest warrant so any police officer anywhere in the nation can pick Dickey up if he or she spots him.
Bondsman Brian Baker of York, owner of 007 Bonds, put up the money for Dickey’s bond last year.
“I plan on making sure that this man returns to justice,” Baker said Thursday.
Until Dickey is caught, Baker is on the hook for the bond money, too.
Hogge was asked one more time if convicted shoplifter Jerry Dickey should be considered dangerous to the public in York County, or any other county on the map.
Without pause, Hogge said one word.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065 • firstname.lastname@example.org