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Charges filed against escaped Michigan prisoner

4 February 2014

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A convicted killer captured in Indiana after a daring one-day escape from a Michigan prison refused to waive extradition Tuesday and said he made a run after 20 years in custody because he "just wanted a second chance."

Michael David Elliot made his comments after appearing in an Indiana court on a charge of auto theft. He was returned to the LaPorte County, Ind., jail on a $1 million bond.

Elliot was arrested Monday in a stolen vehicle, about 24 hours after escaping through two fences at the Ionia Correctional Facility in western Michigan.

Asked how he escaped, Elliot told reporters outside court, "Quick thinking."

"I just wanted a second chance," he said.

Elliot, 40, is charged with carjacking, kidnapping and escape in Michigan. Officials in that state now have 30 days to formally request that Indiana and a judge send him back, LaPorte County Prosecutor Robert Szilagyi said.

"All we have to show is that it's correct, that he's the person in question, and then they can extradite him back to Michigan," Szilagyi told The Associated Press. "We're anticipating they're going to do it pretty fast."

Craig Braje was appointed to serve as Elliot's attorney in Indiana. A message seeking comment was left at his office.

After serving 20 years of a no-parole life sentence, Elliot broke out of prison Sunday night, using his hands to get through two fences while wearing a white kitchen uniform that may have helped him blend with the snow, authorities said.

Elliot, armed with a box cutter, is accused of stealing a Jeep with a woman inside. She escaped when they stopped for gas in Elkhart County, Ind., more than 100 miles away. The Jeep was later found abandoned in nearby Shipshewana, Ind. By evening, Elliot was captured in another stolen vehicle in LaPorte County.

Authorities are now left to sort out exactly how Elliot was able to get out of the Michigan prison. Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said the inmate somehow made holes in two fences with his hands. The fences were equipped with motion sensors to alert guards and also carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them.

The woman whom Elliot abducted was able to call 911 from a concealed cellphone while Elliot was pumping gas at the store near Middlebury, Ind. The woman calmly told the dispatcher her location and said she had been abducted.

"I'm hostage to an escaped convict from Ionia Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich.," the woman said in a recording of the 911 call.

On the dispatcher's advice, she ran to a restroom and locked herself in. Elliot knocked on the door, but the woman stayed inside until police arrived.

Authorities then launched a door-to-door hunt of the area, but didn't track Elliot down until hours later after getting a report of a car stolen from a factory in the city of LaPorte, said sheriff's Maj. John Boyd. A deputy who happened to be nearby spotted the Chevrolet Monte Carlo "within a few seconds," he said.

Elliot tried to run, but he was arrested and taken to jail, Boyd said.

Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old, according to court records. Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.

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