Louisiana Escapees Expected to Enter Guilty Pleas
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Two inmates who escaped from custody in Louisiana plan to plead guilty in a case that includes charges of abducting and killing an Ohio businessman in Mississippi, a court filing said.
Authorities say Darian "Drake" Pierce and Ricky Wedgeworth escaped from the Louisiana State Police compound in Baton Rouge on March 4, 2011, and kidnapped David Cupps from a hotel in Vicksburg, Miss.
Cupps' beaten and strangled body was found in Bessemer, Ala.
Pierce and Wedgeworth were caught on March 14, 2011, after crashing a truck in Memphis, Tenn. Police say they had tied up a county worker and stolen a truck in Madison County, Tenn.
The inmates are charged with kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking, conspiracy and transporting stolen vehicles. The court filing Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss., did not say to which charges they would plead guilty.
The change of plea hearing is scheduled to take place in Jackson on Monday, the same day the men's trial was to begin. They had previously pleaded not guilty.
Wedgeworth's lawyer had no comment when contacted Tuesday.
Pierce's attorney did not immediately respond to a message.
Recent court filings said Pierce acknowledged participating in the crimes during conversations with a nurse and later with investigators from the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Pierce was hospitalized as a precaution after fighting with the officers who arrested him and told the nurse that he and Wedgeworth "escaped from prison and killed a man while taking his car," prosecutors said in a court filing last week.
"He said they dumped the victim's body in Alabama and that he did not mean to kill the man," the filing said.
Cupps, a 53-year-old man from Sunbury, Ohio, was attacked for his rental car, authorities say. He was in Mississippi to inspect the Grand Gulf nuclear power plant south of Vicksburg.
The inmates had been working as groundskeepers at the Louisiana State Police compound when authorities said they stole a van and drove off.
Both men were serving long prison sentences at the time. Wedgeworth was serving time for armed robbery and was set to be released in 2023. Pierce was locked up for attempted second-degree murder and was scheduled for release in 2024.
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety has said it was using about 160 inmate workers, known as trusties, for various jobs at the State Police compound when Wedgeworth and Pierce escaped.
Authorities have said Wedgeworth is from Memphis, Tenn. Pierce is from of Bogalusa, La.