US marshals arrest Louisiana work release inmate in Oklahoma

David Graham (Source: West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office)
David Graham (Source: West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office)
(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The US Marshal Service captured a West Baton Rouge Parish work release inmate at a hotel in Oklahoma, according to Col. Richie Johnson with the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

Johnson said David Graham, 34, of Leesville, walked off his job Wednesday morning in East Baton Rouge Parish. A woman, believed to be Graham's ex-wife from Oklahoma, helped him make a break for it.

"She came down, picked him up, and took off with him," Johnson said.

Tiffany Evans, 38, of Oklahoma City, apparently had extensive communication with Graham before the escape and drove down to Baton Rouge to pick him up.

Along for the ride was the woman's daughter, who ended up playing a key role in helping investigators track the fugitive down.

"The teenager called her father and said, 'Hey, this is what my mom just did.' And the father in turn contacted the Oklahoma police department and let them know what was going on and where it was going on at," Johnson said.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office reported Graham and the woman were found at the Red Roof Inn at the corner of Reno and Meridian avenues in Oklahoma City. Deputies said Graham had two outstanding misdemeanor warrants in Oklahoma - violation of suspended sentence and domestic abuse.

In West Baton Rouge, Graham was serving time for a drug charge and had about a year and a half left to go in his sentence, according to Johnson. He faces an escape charge, which could lead to an additional six months to a year behind bars. He will also be kicked out of the work release program, according to Johnson.

Before any of that can happen, Graham will have to be extradited from Oklahoma back to West Baton Rouge.

"If he fights it, he'll just prolong the inevitable. It's time for him to give Caesar what's Caesar," Johnson said.

Depending on what the investigation reveals, Evans could face a principal to escape or accessory to escape charge, Johnson added.

Graham is the third West Baton Rouge Parish work release inmate to walk off the job or escape in just the last month. However, Johnson said Graham's escape does not fit into the normal patter for work release walk-offs.

"Typically, it's a spur of the moment, heat of the moment thing. I'm going to visit a relative, visit my girlfriend. Typically, they try to sneak back into the workplace," Johnson said.

On Monday, deputies caught 34-year-old Rickey Lake in the woods in Erwinville. They said he escaped through a window at the West Baton Rouge work release facility.

Meanwhile, on February 19, authorities caught up with 24-year-old Mertis Wade at a Mardi Gras parade in Metairie after he walked off his job.

"It's the nature of the beast - the walk-offs - you're not going to prevent the walk-offs from a job site," Johnson said.

He also said that while ankle bracelets may seem like the obvious way to cut back on escapes, they will not work.

"That sounds great and that feels good if you want to be politically correct, but if I'm going to walk-off, I'm going to cut the bracelet and walk-off," Johnson explained.

Even with the escapes, Johnson said he believes the program is worth it. He said it saves taxpayers money in the long-run because work release inmates pay for their own housing, food, transportation, and more. He also said they are overall less likely to become repeat offenders.

Statewide, Johnson said there are approximately 8,700 work release inmates. They are admitted into the program by the Department of Corrections.

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