LAPORTE, Ind. (AP) — A convicted killer who escaped from a Michigan prison last month and was caught in Indiana gave up his challenge Thursday to attempts to return him to his home state.
Public defender Craig Braje told LaPorte Circuit Judge Thomas Alevizos that Michael David Elliot was withdrawing his opposition to being extradited, after Braje briefly argued about the propriety of the paperwork from the state of Michigan seeking Elliot’s return. Alevizos said he had just received the request and hadn’t read it. Moments later, Braje said Elliot was withdrawing his motion for a hearing to contest his return.
Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Fronk said he wasn’t surprised, saying there was no legal argument to keep Elliot in Indiana.
“There was not a lot of room for maneuvering,” he said.
Braje declined to comment.
Elliot, who had shaved the mustache he had when he was apprehended, was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit with both his hands and legs shackled. He said on his way out of the courtroom that his escape and his extradition fight were attempts to call attention to his case.
“I’m innocent,” he yelled as authorities led him onto an elevator after the hearing.
The 40-year-old was arrested Feb. 3 after he was spotted by a LaPorte County sheriff’s deputy investigating a vehicle theft. Elliot had escaped a day earlier, on Super Bowl Sunday, from the Ionia Correctional Facility, about 30 miles east of Grand Rapids. An investigation showed Elliot was able to escape primarily because guards didn’t properly operate the motion-detector alarms at a gate, which he pried open with scissors and a belt buckle. The investigation also found that an alarm sensor in another area of the prison was misaligned, allowing Elliot to crawl underneath an invisible detection beam without being noticed. Informal prisoner accounts also weren’t done during the afternoon shift.
He is accused of stealing a Jeep in Ionia with a woman inside. She managed to escape when Elliot stopped for gas in Elkhart County, more than 100 miles away from the prison.
Alevizos agreed to drop an auto theft against Elliot. Fronk said it made no sense to pursue an auto theft charge against someone already facing a life sentence. Elliot is facing carjacking, kidnapping and escape charges in Michigan.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole after being convicted of fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20 years old.
Asked by a reporter Thursday if he planned to try to escape again, Elliot replied: “Not if I’m cleared.”