Walla Walla County Jail inmate who briefly escaped gets 7 years for previous crimes

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WALLA WALLA - A felon who allegedly broke out of the County Jail in a short-lived bid for freedom early this month has been sentenced to seven years in prison for crimes last summer.

Warren D. Summers, 55, was ordered Tuesday afternoon to serve 84 months, the high end of the 63- to 84-month standard-range he faced for residential burglary, theft, malicious mischief and possession of oxycodone in August. He had pleaded guilty Feb. 1.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht went along with a prosecution recommendation. Defense attorney Gail Siemers asked for the low end of the range, acknowledging her client had been "thoughtless," but pointing out, "He is totally dependent on drugs."

Summers admitted in a statement to Schacht: "I'm a thief, I'm a drug addict and I've been that way most of my life."

Al Stillman, whose house Summers burglarized, urged Schacht to lock Summers up long enough to prevent him from victimizing other people. Stillman said he happened upon the burglary, armed himself with a pistol from his pickup and confronted Summers as he left the house.

"(Summers) came running at me in a very aggressive manner" until he saw the firearm, Stillman said. "I have no doubt he was going to physically attack me."

Schacht responded that Stillman's account "illustrates to me the impact of a crime as simple as burglary can have on a person."

Schacht gave Summers credit for the 107 days he'd already served in jail and placed him on a year of community custody, a form of probation, when he's released.

Summers is expected to be transferred to the custody of state prison officials Wednesday. He has been detained in a holding cell at the County Jail since his escape and recapture this month, authorities said.

Siemers told Schacht at Tuesday's hearing she understands that charges related to Summers' alleged escape may be filed and asked for "speedy charging" before Summers is transferred to prison. Schacht told her to speak with Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle's office about any such plans.

But Nagle told the Union-Bulletin earlier this month he intends to wait until after Summers is transferred to a state prison - which is more secure than the County Jail - to file escape and malicious mischief charges against him. Summers then would remain in state custody while that case is prosecuted.

Summers would be ordered to serve up to a maximum of another 20 years in prison if eventually convicted of those charges. He has an extensive previous record of 15 felonies dating back to 1972, including two escapes in Yakima County in the 1980s.

About 7:30 p.m. Feb., 2, while awaiting Tuesday's sentencing, Summers was attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting inside the Walla Walla 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.

Summers tried to force his way past a glass security door allowing access to the outside, but at first wasn't able to do so, officials said. He then allegedly threw shower tiles toward the glass door, cracked it and dove through. Police apprehended him about eight minutes later near Third and Stahl avenues following a brief chase on foot.

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.

Sheriff Mike Humphreys said in an interview Tuesday that the glass door is in the process of being replaced, and the shower tiles will be sealed and strengthened.

Meanwhile, procedures have been changed to require the meeting room door be locked when an officer is not present in the immediate area, Humphreys said.

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