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Copyright © 2000 The Seattle Times Company

Posted at 05:49 a.m. Pacific; Friday, January 7, 2000

One-legged escapee runs into big trouble

by Anne Koch
Seattle Times staff reporter

A handcuffed prisoner with an artificial leg ran from a courtroom yesterday and escaped briefly, committing up to four felonies in as many minutes before she was caught, police say.

"She was here on a misdemeanor, and suddenly turned it into a bunch of felonies," said Bellevue police spokeswoman Marcia Harnden. "It was real quick."

The brief scramble began at 1:14 p.m. in a Bellevue District courtroom as a group of prisoners from the King County Jail was awaiting court appearances, Harnden said.

The 36-year-old woman, who was in jail on a drug charge, had been brought to District Court on another matter - failing to show up at a hearing on a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, Harnden said.

Wearing handcuffs attached to a waist chain, she was seated in a chair near an emergency exit. When a guard stepped across the room, she bolted out the door.

Unlike the other prisoners, who wore jail-issued sandals, she wore an athletic shoe to match her prosthesis.

That may have aided her jack-rabbit escape, Harnden said.

Running to a house about a block away, she dashed through an unlocked door and grabbed a set of car keys from a kitchen counter, startling the woman inside, Harnden said. Then she jumped into the woman's car parked in the driveway.

Too late.

As she tried to back out, an officer blocked her path with his patrol van. Despite his order to get out of the car, she rammed his vehicle, then drove forward, ramming the woman's garage door.

Officers finally removed the woman from the car after using an extra set of car keys.

She was treated for minor injuries at Overlake Hospital Medical Center. The car and garage door were damaged.

Police will recommend the woman face additional charges, including escape, residential burglary, attempted auto theft and possibly assault.

"She turned a little thing into a big mess," Harnden said.

Anne Koch's phone message number is 206-464-3303.

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