Jury convicts local man charged with aiding escapee

Friday, June 1, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A young Lewisburg man was found guilty at the end of a one-day jury trial last week, and will be sentenced later this summer.

Bryan S. Harmon, 22, of 3rd Avenue North, was charged with being an accessory after the fact in the escape of Claude Anthony Brown, 29, on Nov. 16, 2011.

Brown was an inmate working that day at the Solid Waste Department's recycling sorting line. He testified someone supplied the group with alcohol, and they had also indulged in some "synthetic dope." Under the influence, and knowing there would be trouble because of that when the crew got back to jail, Brown decided to run.

He took off down 3rd Avenue, and entered Harmon's house, where he used to live.

"He was just a kid you barged in on?" asked Harmon's lawyer, Robert Marlow of Shelbyville.

"Yes sir," Brown answered. "He wasn't wanting me there. He was nervous and didn't know what to do."

Brown admitted running through the house, stripping off his jail clothes on the way, and taking shorts and a shirt from the clean clothes in Harmon's laundry room.

Before he could make a getaway, police had the house surrounded, and Brown was arrested.

Assistant District Attorneys Eddie Barnard and Mike Randles pressured Harmon when he took the stand in his own defense, highlighting differences between his testimony and the written statement he made a month later.

"Why can't you remember?" asked Randles.

Harmon answered that he had put Brown's escape out of his mind after Marshall County Sheriff's Detective Tony Nichols "told us we didn't have nothing to worry about since we cooperated."

"It is a conceivable explanation," agreed Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler. The judge, however, remembered Nichols "saying he didn't say this."

Brown was near the end of his sentence at the time of the escape. He was charged with escape, and also with the introduction of contraband into a penal institution (the "synthetic dope"). He pleaded guilty to both in February, and was sentenced to two years on the escape charge and seven years on the introduction of contraband, to run at the same time, but after any unexpired sentence. As a "multiple" offender, Brown must serve at least 35 percent of his sentence before being eligible for a parole board hearing.