Bailiff: De­fen­dant flees court­room af­ter sen­tenc­ing

Man who pleaded guilty to drug charge caught at el­e­va­tor

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO&STATE - By steven Krey­tak

A man sen­tenced to two years in state jail fled an eighth-floor court­room Fri­day morn­ing, only to be cap­tured while wait­ing for an el­e­va­tor.

Bran­don Tuff, 21, pleaded guilty in May to pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance af­ter a po­lice af­fi­davit ac­cused him of sell­ing crack co­caine to a po­lice of­fi­cer down­town. Tuff did not have a plea bar­gain, mean­ing state District Judge Char­lie Baird could sen­tence him up to the max­i­mum for the crime — two years in state jail.

Baird as­signed Tuff to what he calls his “Fri­day morn­ing pee team.” That means

Con­tin­ued from B that Tuff was one of a list of de­fen­dants who were or­dered to show up Fri­day morn­ings to take drug tests, which the judge ul­ti­mately would use to de­ter­mine their sen­tence.

When Tuff, who had been free on bail, showed up for court Fri­day at the Black­well-Thur­man Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Cen­ter, he tested pos­i­tive for co­caine, Baird said. Baird called him to the bench and an­nounced the two-year sen- tence.

At that point, ac­cord­ing to Baird’s bailiff, Art Guer­rero, Tuff’s girl­friend cried out from the court­room gallery and Tuff turned and ran for the door.

Guer­rero said he tried to tackle Tuff but that Tuff slid away. Guer­rero said he and sher­iff’s Deputy Mark Smith ran af­ter Tuff, find­ing him wait­ing for an el­e­va­tor.

As Smith and Guer­rero were scuf­fling with Tuff, his girl­friend joined the fra­cas, Guer­rero said.

Guer­rero said he pulled the girl­friend away and pros­e­cu­tor Jim Young helped Smith sub­due Tuff. Even­tu­ally, Guer­rero said, an­other deputy came and Tuff was led away in cuffs.

“It was a real strug­gle,” Guer­rero said. “This guy was like a cat. He wasn’t go­ing to be taken down.”

Tuff’s lawyer, Ri­cardo Mal­don­ado, said he be­lieves his client was shocked that Baird dis­pensed such a stiff jail term.

Art Guer­rero Bailiff who chased man who fled.

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