Bailiff: Defendant flees courtroom after sentencing
Man who pleaded guilty to drug charge caught at elevator
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.