Freedom short for robbery suspect

By Kathy Jefcoats

A Jackson man held without bond in the December robbery of the Bank of America in McDonough is now charged with felony escape after allegedly scaling the fence at the county jail and enjoying one hour, 12 minutes of freedom.

Jermaine Debarge Lawrence, 21, is now a security risk and he will be housed accordingly, said Henry County sheriff's jail Maj. David McCart Friday.

Lawrence was found, bleeding, sweating and stripped to his boxer shorts and T-shirt in the home of an elderly couple about three-quarters of a mile from the Henry County Jail at 3:28 p.m., said sheriff's Lt. Scott Perry. McDonough police Officer Gregory Lyons arrested Lawrence without incident.

"He told the couple he'd been in a fight and I think they were trying to comfort him," Perry said. "I believe they were acquaintances of his."

No one was hurt and it is not believed that Lawrence committed any crimes while outside of the jail.

Perry said Lawrence was in the recreation yard with 20 other inmates from his cell block, supervised by a deputy. When the inmates went back inside, Lawrence stayed behind in a blind spot where the deputy could not see him, he said.

"When the door closed, he shimmied over the fence and was cut on the razor wire," said Perry. Lawrence was treated for the cuts once he was back in custody.

Sightings of the inmate were made almost immediately, he said, and calls began coming in about his location.

McCart said there is nothing to indicate anyone else was involved in the escape.

Lawrence has been held without bond since his Dec. 12 arrest for armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Henry Superior Court records show that bond was denied Jan. 6 because Lawrence was considered a risk to the community.

According to McDonough police records, Lawrence is suspected of entering the Bank of America at 135 Keys Ferry St., at 5 p.m., armed with a .32-caliber revolver. According to witnesses, a teller gave an armed man money from her drawer and from her counter after he fired a shot into the air.

She also gave bait money to the man, who fled the bank on foot.

Police identified the man as Lawrence, who was found minutes later in the wooded area between the bank and the Save Rite parking lot. The money and gun were recovered.

Lawrence has not been indicted on the December charges.