More fallout from inmate escape

December 11, 2009 8:39:27 PM PST
There is more fallout resulting from the escape of Arcade Comeaux late last month. Three more prison guards are off the job. This comes as an independent security review will look at how Comeaux got his hand on a gun and now Comeaux's attorney is asking questions too. An independent review team should be in place at the high security Estelle unit by next week to investigate how Arcade Comeaux got a gun. It will join a number of other investigations, both criminal and administrative, already underway. Comeaux's attorney told us those should be the focus, not a new trial.

Almost three weeks after Arcade Comeaux's elaborate escape, the two guards he overpowered are now off the job. According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Lance Waldo and Matthew Smith, both 19-year veterans, chose to retire Friday instead of facing disciplinary action.

"I think they got him as a scapegoat," said Candace Price.

In an exclusive interview with Candace Price, wife of Michael Price, the first prison guard fired over Comeaux's escape, the allegations against the two transportation officers were serious.

"He said that they loosened the handcuffs and turned one of them so that the handcuff keyhole was facing out. And no leg irons, no shackles," said Candace Price.

TDCJ has not confirmed those details, but is again finding fault. On Friday afternoon, Monte Henson, a lieutenant, became the second guard fired over the escape. TDCJ says Henson did not make sure Comeaux's restraints were on, and on right.

"You may be poking the bear, but you're not killing it," said Judy Shields, attorney for Comeaux.

Shields believes the problems that led to Comeaux's escape were bigger than a few people and she's heard it firsthand.

"At least he didn't hurt anybody when he obviously had an opportunity," said Shields.

She is appointed to defend Comeaux against the charges of kidnapping and escape, charges she questions.

"I don't understand the motivation for doing this unless it's one, quite frankly, for publicity," said Shields.

The 49-year-old was already serving three consecutive life sentences and was already in segregation.

"So nothing more can be done," Shields said.

The Montgomery County District Attorney says he has a duty to prosecute and believes Comeaux's attorney wants a change of venue.

In a statement, District Attorney Brett Ligon said, "It appears her comments regarding publicity are an attempt to actually continue generating press coverage to bolster her attempt to get the venue changed."

Shields says she hasn't filed any motions and this was her first interview.

"I think there is a different agenda going on besides what's best for the citizens of Montgomery County," said Shields.

DA Brett Ligon says prosecuting Comeaux is not about publicity. The case has been assigned to an assistant DA.

TDCJ told us there will be more administrative hearings next week with a handful of employees still subject to possible disciplinary action.

A Montgomery Co. grand jury will meet again next week to discuss the aggravated kidnapping and felony escape charges Comeaux is facing.


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