GULFPORT -- A Pass Christian man who fled custody on a Drug Court violation could have had a felony drug conviction dismissed if he had waited to see a judge.
Kimaz Denzell Carter, 20, is the man officials said took off running from the Harrison County Courthouse on Oct. 1 while restrained with waist shackles and handcuffs. He had been arrested in Drug Court after allegedly testing positive for marijuana.
"Judge Lisa Dodson, the Drug Court judge, doesn't usually revoke probation for failing a drug test the first time," said Herman Cox, Harrison County prosecuting attorney.
"The program is there to help people get off drugs and alcohol," Cox said. "A Drug Court judge has options that can help an offender achieve that."
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"If he had just waited to see the judge, it could have been all right."
An investigator testifying at Carter's preliminary hearing on the escape charge Wednesday said deputies were walking Carter to a jail-transport van when he bolted.
"He wasn't a high-risk prisoner," Cox said. "Deputies had no reason to believe he would escape. The investigator said he (Carter) kicked off his shoes and ran fast. Very fast."
Officers later found him hiding under a house. They said they sent in a K-9 when he refused to come out, and the dog bit him.
Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner sent the case to a grand jury. Carter has a bond on the escape charge but can't post bail because of the Drug Court issue.
Carter, the father of two children, had been selected for the Drug Court program after he was indicted with another man in February 2014, accused of possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana.
Carter pleaded guilty March 16 as a Drug Court participant and was sentenced to three years of non-adjudicated probation.
Drug Court is a rigorous program with meetings, drug tests and mentoring. A conviction is dismissed on completion of the program. It's only for first-time offenders who aren't charged with a violent crime.
Now, Carter could receive a three-year prison term on the drug charge.
His probation hearing is set for Oct. 29.
If convicted of escape, he faces up to five years in prison.
"The prison terms would have to be served consecutively for a total of up to eight years," Cox said.