OXFORD – The attorney for fugitive Wendell Blount says that if he could get a message to his client, essentially it would be, “Are you crazy?”
Blount apparently took off Friday out from under federal supervision as he awaited sentencing in the Natchez Trace Parkway death of a Dutch cyclist.
Convicted April 23, he faces up to 33 years in prison, a virtual life sentence for a 58-year-old man. He was on house arrest wearing an ankle monitor as he waited to be sentenced.
Law enforcement continues to look for Blount, said acting U.S. Marshal Scott Sanders.
Blount most recently served prison time in Texas on a federal charge that he possessed 23 kilograms of marijuana for sale. A few people who know Blount say his drug connections could have helped him find refuge out of the country.
But Sanders disagrees.
“We do not believe Blount has left the country,” he said Wednesday.
Blount’s attorney, David Hill of Oxford, said the flight came while issues are still pending in his case:
n Whether a federal grand jury illegally indicted him twice for the same crime.
Hill said he will file a post-trial brief on that issue next week.
n An appeal issue about testimony, excluded at trial, from a man and his wife who almost hit cyclist Esther Hageman just minutes before Blount did. They will say she was riding in the middle of the road in dark attire, which made it difficult to see her.
Hageman, a Dutch journalist, was struck from behind in April 2009 as she rode south to meet friends in Jackson.
n Other appeal issues, such as his medical history and longtime use of medications for chronic pain.
Blount’s charge of negligent homicide was based on his alleged impairment under the influence of morphine.
But, Hill said, that despite his belief in Blount’s innocence, the Calhoun County ex-businessman has put himself in a bad place by running.
“When you fail to abide by the terms of the court’s bail release,” Hill said, “you jeopardize your own credibility and you jeopardize the effectiveness of every tool you have available to you.”
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal