By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Investigation by The Transcript has revealed that an escaped McClain County prisoner captured in Norman on Monday has a long history of felony convictions in Oklahoma and Utah and has pending charges in Logan County, including burglary and larceny. He also may have charges pending in California, according to McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett.
None of the known charges against escapee Taylor Daniel Brotherton were violent crimes.
Hewett said he was aware of charges in other states but did not know about pending charges in Logan County.
“I was told he (Brotherton) had charges or warrants out in California, but they would not expedite,” Hewett said. “It’s not unusual for inmates to come here that have been in and out of jail their entire lives.”
Hewett said Brotherton may not have been aware of the charges or arrest warrant in Logan County. Authorities are still sorting out these and other details of the escape Monday from McClain County custody by Brotherton, 27, and Chase Clemmons, 21.
Brotherton and Clemmons allegedly stole a county-owned pickup and escaped while on work release at the Expo Center in Purcell. Both were jail trusties with low bonds and pending drug charges, Hewett said.
Clemmons was arrested in Norman shortly after the pair crashed the stolen pickup into a stockade fence, but Brotherton eluded law enforcement officers for hours.
Hewett said prisoners with high bonds, violent or sexual assaults or problems in jail don’t qualify for the trusty program. The work program has been a boon for the county in the past until this escape. For now, McClain County has terminated the inmate work release program.
“We may have to correct some of our end of it,” Hewett said. “As of now, we have terminated the work release program. That’s not to say it won’t come back in the future, but right now we have terminated.”
Both men were dressed in black-and-white-striped jail uniforms. Clemmons was still wearing stripes when he was captured, but Brotherton stole green pants and a brown coat from the Expo, Hewett said.
Reports that Brotherton was armed appear to be false.
“The indication that we have right now is there was no gun,” Hewett said. “We did find two rounds of live ammunition in the pickup.”
Clemmons told Hewett there was a handgun and is still saying Brotherton forced him to get in the pickup, but Hewett said the evidence does not support that at this time. Clemmons is being charged as a participant in the escape.
“Right now, we’re going under the assumption that no weapon was involved,” Hewett said.
Hewett said Brotherton is from California and wanted to get back there.
“Norman police department did an outstanding, professional job,” Hewett said. “The main thing is no one got hurt. This is what worried me tremendously.”
McClain County was holding Brotherton on possession of a controlled dangerous substance, a criminal felony. Charges were filed on Jan. 31. Bond was set at $5,000. In September, he was hit with misdemeanor charges in McClain County for driving with a revoked or suspended license as well as failure to carry insurance verification and speeding.
But Brotherton has three recent felony convictions in Oklahoma County. Brotherton pleaded guilty to three felony charges on Jan. 22. Court records indicate each of those offenses occurred on different dates during 2012:
· Sept. 10 — unauthorized use of a vehicle
· Sept. 11— making a false declaration of ownership to a pawnbroker
· Oct. 25 — larceny of an automobile
Brotherton also has a felony pending in Logan County, according to court records. Logan County charged him with two counts of larceny, one larceny in the nighttime from person and one larceny of a motor vehicle. The date of the offenses were Oct. 7, 2012, with the charges filed Feb. 5, 2013, according to court records.
Records further indicate that Logan County issued a warrant for Brotherton’s arrest on Feb. 11— the day of his escape. It is not known whether Brotherton was aware of these charges or the arrest warrant when he allegedly attempted to escape.
Case information available on the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network say that the defendant, Brotherton, allegedly stole a television from a woman at 824 Cottage Park Circle in Guthrie on Oct. 7. He also allegedly stole her 2002 Ford Focus.
If convicted, these charges could have resulted in prison sentences between three and 20 years.
Court records in Logan County indicate that Brotherton had previous convictions in Salt Lake County, Utah, in December 2006 for two incidents of second-degree burglary. Brotherton was sentenced to a term of one-to-15 years in prison for each.
No information on Brotherton was available online through the Utah Department of Corrections offender search.
For Norman residents, Monday’s manhunt brought some surprising experiences.
Roswitha Allin heard something in her backyard Monday morning, never guessing two escaped prisoners had crashed a stolen vehicle into her fence.
Allin heard noises and thought her cats were involved in a cat fight.
“I ran out like crazy and found two big policemen in the driveway, and they were wrestling No. 1 (Clemmons) down.”
Police asked her to go back inside and shut the door, which she did.
“Friends have already said they will come and put (the broken fence) back up again,” she said.
Norman police say reports from wary residents may have contributed to the capture. Calls came from Braum’s on 24th Avenue Southwest and from Savannah House apartments both shortly after 3 p.m.
Brotherton was spotted around that time by a Norman police officer. After he ran and hid from view, Officer Lance Harper and his K-9 partner Remco searched the area. Remco found Brotherton hiding under a mobile home and assisted in apprehending him.
Norman police confirm that no gun has been found.
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