Thursday, 25 February 2016

Shawshank Fugitive Frank Freshwaters Could Win Freedom in Parole Hearing

He spent 56 years on the run, believing he could live out his twilight years in the marshy lowlands of Melbourne, Florida. But a relentless ruse by police led to the recapture of Ohio's "Shawshank Fugitive" last year.
Now, Frank Freshwaters could soon gain what he once desperately clung to — his freedom.
Freshwaters, who turns 80 in April, will have a parole hearing Thursday afternoon in Columbus, where lawyers will argue over whether he deserves another crack at life outside of prison.
Shawshank Escapee Captured After 56 Years 1:38
The family of Freshwaters' victim, Eugene Flynt, is expected to testify. Flynt was a married father of three in 1957 when a then-21-year-old Freshwaters accidentally struck and killed him with his car on an Akron street, according to Florida Today.
"In essence, he caused my life nothing but trouble," Richard Flynt, who was 3 when his father died, told the newspaper. "I don't think they can just pat him on the back and send him home."
Related: Frank Freshwaters, Convict Who Escaped Prison, Arrested After 56 Years
It's unclear if Freshwaters will appear at the parole board hearing. Prosecutors told the newspaper that he deserves no clemency.
"Freshwaters failed to comply with his probation, and did not pay a dime of the $1,500 he was ordered to pay in restitution to Flynt's family," Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Wednesday. "Freshwaters was eventually sentenced to serve between one and 20 years in prison, yet spent only seven months behind bars before escaping in 1959. Since then, Freshwaters has lived free, had a family, and even collected Social Security under an assumed name."
Image: Frank Freshwater
Frank Freshwater, 79, was arrested in Melbourne, Fla., after information was received from the Cold Case Unit of the U.S. Marshall's Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force showed that Freshwater might be staying in the Melbourne area. Brevard County Sheriff's Office
Freshwaters' winding saga started after he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Flynt's death. In lieu of up to 20 years behind bars, he was given a five-year probation. But he violated it, prosecutors said, and was incarcerated in the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, which became immortalized in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption."
For his good behavior, he was transferred to a less-restrictive state prison farm. Seven months later, he escaped.
He resurfaced in 1975, when he was picked up in West Virginia following an outstanding warrant for his arrest. But the U.S. Marshals said the governor there declined to extradite him, citing his "flawless 16-year residency" in West Virginia. He was released.
For years, Freshwaters — who went under multiple aliases and was also referred to as Freshwater in court documents — worked as a truck driver and managed to collect Social Security, Florida Sheriff Maj. Tod Goodyear said last year.
But authorities never forgot about the "Shawshank Fugitive" who eluded them for so many years.
Florida Escapee Arrested after 56 Years on the Run 2:33
Investigators hatched a plan to get a man living on Florida's eastern shores named William H. Cox — believed to be Freshwaters — to sign papers that they could use to match fingerprints belonging to their escapee.
Last May, Florida police arrived at his secluded and shabbily-kept trailer holding a photo of Freshwaters from 56 years earlier. At first, he claimed that he hadn't seen that man in years. But after questioning, the white bearded-Freshwaters confessed, Goodyear told The Associated Press.
While he appeared to be living a quiet life without any troubles with law enforcement, that shouldn't excuse him for not owning up to his past transgressions, Ohio prosecutors say — no matter his age.
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