Judge: Fugitive on lam since '59 will be sent back to Ohio

AP News
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Posted: May 18, 2015 1:35 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An Ohio fugitive who's been on the lam since walking away from a prison farm in 1959 will soon be on his way back up north after his recent arrest in Florida.

On Monday, Judge Rhonda Babb released her ruling, denying 79-year-old Frank Freshwater's attempt in court last week to contest the move. Freshwater had already signed papers agreeing to be extradited, but attorney Bryan Savy asked Babb to void them. Freshwater testified during a hearing that he "wasn't thinking straight" when he signed.

But Babb says Freshwater "knowingly and voluntarily" waived his right during his initial court appearance and "was not confused."

"His final statements to Judge (Benjamin) Garagozlo indicated that he understood the nature of the proceedings," Babb wrote. "His testimony about confusion at the hearing was conclusory."

Savy wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that based on some "factual findings" in Babb's order, it "may allow us to pursue other legal avenues." He didn't elaborate on what those potential avenues might be, but said he anticipates filing a motion for a stay of the extradition proceedings by Monday afternoon.

Babb had promised to rule by Tuesday, when Ohio officials have arrangements to fly him back.

Freshwater originally pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1957. He was arrested May 4 in Florida. Deputies used a ruse to match his fingerprints to his decades-old arrest.

Ohio's Adult Parole Authority is expected to handle his transport back to the state. A representative from Ohio who was in the courtroom Thursday told Babb that officials have already purchased plane tickets to transport Freshwater on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said last week that the extradition had been scheduled and was proceeding as planned, but he wouldn't give details, citing security concerns.