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Texas sheriff disciplines deputies for inmate's escape

Associated Press Writer

HOUSTON- One deputy has been fired and eight others disciplined for allowing a death row inmate to stroll out the front door of a jail in downtown Houston this month, an official said Monday.

Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas said Monday he doesn't think Charles V. Thompson had any outside help and blames employee error for allowing the 35-year-old murderer to escape Nov. 3. He was caught three days later in Shreveport, La.

"It was our error. It has nothing to do with policies and procedures," Thomas said. "If the correct procedures had been followed, this wouldn't have happened."

One deputy retired rather than face discipline, Thomas said. Punishment for the others ranged from a letter of reprimand to 10 days suspension without pay.

Thompson escaped a week after he was resentenced to death for the 1998 shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

Thompson told investigators he had been planning his escape for up to two years, the sheriff said.

He smuggled a key from the state prison system to slip out of his handcuffs, ditched his orange prison jumpsuit for the clothes he wore to court, then waved a fake ID badge as he talked his way past at least four deputies and walked out the front door, Thomas said.

"He was a very cunning individual," the sheriff said.

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