No charges yet in Walla Walla jail break

Warren D. Summers will eventually be charged with escape and malicious mischief, the county prosecutor said.


WALLA WALLA -- A man who allegedly broke out of the County Jail this week will face a formal escape charge after he's sentenced to prison for crimes last summer.

Warren D. Summers, 55, eventually will be charged in Superior Court with escape and malicious mischief, according to Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle. Summers allegedly threw shower tiles at a glass security door at the jail Tuesday night, broke through the glass and fled. He was apprehended a short time later and taken back to the jail, according to officials.

Nagle said Thursday that before he files new charges, he wants Summers to be sentenced for four felonies to which he pleaded guilty Monday. Those crimes include residential burglary, theft, malicious mischief and possession of oxycodone in August. Based on Summers' extensive previous record of 15 felonies dating to 1972, the standard-range sentence he faces is about five to seven years. He will serve the time in a state prison.

And that's exactly where Nagle wants Summers to be, rather than continuing to be held at the County Jail under prosecution of new escape and malicious mischief charges. Two of his prior offenses are for escapes in Yakima County in the 1980s. "(Summers has) demonstrated he's an escape risk, so we need to get him in a more secure facility," Nagle said. "It would just be safer all the way around with him."

Sentencing could occur within the next week or so. Summers then will be placed in the hands of state prison officials and will remain in their custody once Nagle's office files escape and malicious mischief charges against him. If eventually convicted of those charges, he would be ordered to serve up to a maximum of another 20 years.

Officials said Summers bolted from the jail about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He had been attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting inside the jail when he left the meeting room and followed visitors through a metal security door into the lobby area, according to a Sheriff's Office report.

He reportedly tried to force his way past a glass security door allowing access to the outside, but at first wasn't able to do so. "According to witnesses in the lobby area Mr. Summers then began to throw small white items towards the glass door and after a few attempts the glass cracked and Mr. Summers then dove through the glass door and fled from the jail wearing black/white striped jail coveralls," the report says.

Officials said he was apprehended by police about eight minutes later near Third and Stahl avenues after a brief chase on foot, was treated at Providence St. Mary Medical Center for lacerations to his right hand and taken back to the jail.

Authorities believe Summers had planned the escape for a few weeks. Deputies reportedly located damage to a shower area of the jail where inmates had been removing the tiles, which "are known to scratch or damage glass windows" at the facility, according to the Sheriff's Office report.

Regular visiting hours have resumed at the jail, although the second door that visitors walk though to enter the main lobby -- a locked door that Summers shattered Tuesday evening -- has been removed for repairs.

Jail Capt. Jim Romine said the repairs are ongoing, and some parts have been ordered to get the door back in place. Once installed, the door may be hung with plywood covering holes where the glass had been until that can be installed as well.

For after-hours visitors to the jail, Romine said the main exterior door will be locked, and guests will have to visit a back door to alert jail staff with a call button that they are at the front.

U-B reporter Maria P. Gonzalez contributed to this report.


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