Local News

Chatham inmate 'ringleader' pleads guilty

Posted July 30, 2008 7:07 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2008 9:47 p.m. EDT

— The ringleader of a group of inmates who escaped from the Chatham County Detention Center in February pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges relating to the escape.

Brian Keith Blackwell, 32, also pleaded guilty to charges that were pending at the time of his escape, police said. Blackwell was transported to the North Carolina Department of Correction to begin serving his 25-year maximum sentence.

Officers believe Blackwell was the ringleader of five inmates who escaped Feb. 4.

The five overpowered a detention officer, grabbed his keys and radio, changed clothes, left through a side door and used a coat to protect themselves when scaling a fence topped with razor wire, authorities said.

Blackwell, Adrian Carlos Reyes, 24, and Kyle Evan Kettrey, 22, were arrested at a traffic checkpoint the next morning.

The trio was captured north of Pittsboro on U.S. Highway 15-501 after they went to a woman's house and asked her for a ride to Chapel Hill.

A fourth inmate, James Austin Tarrer, 16, was detained not long after the escape, authorities said. Tarrer’s case is pending.

Inmate Stewart Wendell Baldwin, 30, surrendered at a store on Hatch Road, just outside Carrboro, on April 4.

Reyes pleaded guilty June 25 to charges for the escape. He was sentenced to the maximum nine years for the escape and is awaiting trial on child rape charges.

Kettrey received a 33-month active sentence.

On Tuesday, Baldwin pleaded guilty to two counts of kidnapping, one count of common law robbery and one count of escape. He received an active sentence of 12 years, the maximum. His sentence will run at the expiration of his 42-month sentence for drug trafficking. Baldwin also received a $50,000 fine for the drug-trafficking conviction.

The Chatham County Sheriff's Office conducted an internal review of the escape and determined that procedures in place to prevent such escapes weren't followed, and the senior detention officer on duty the night of the jailbreak was fired, Sheriff Richard Webster said in a statement.