Fugitive Couple Fight Extradition to Tennessee
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fugitive couple accused of killing a corrections officer Friday decided against going back to Tennessee from Ohio to face first-degree murder charges.
George and Jennifer Hyatte appeared separately in an Ohio courtroom, but both told the judge they did not consent to return immediately to Tennessee. On Thursday, sources told reporters the couple would allow their extradition.
Tennessee now will have to get a warrant to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, who is out of the country. The process could result in a 90-day stay in Ohio for the Hyattes.
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jennifer Brunner ordered the couple jailed without bond.
Jennifer Hyatte (search), 31, appeared first. Handcuffed with her hands in front of her and looking dazed, she did not talk during the hearing.
A few minutes later, George Hyatte (search), 34, went into the courtroom and heard what his wife had decided to do. "I don't want to leave without her," said Hyatte, who had on two sets of handcuffs. "I don't want to. I don't want to."
The pair were captured Wednesday night at a budget motel in Columbus. They were caught more than two days after a daylight escape from the courthouse in Kingston, Tenn., following a tip from a cab driver who gave the couple a lift.
Mike Wagers picked the Hyattes up, drove them about 115 miles from Erlanger, Ky., to Columbus and dropped them off at the motel. The fare was $185, and the couple handed him two $100 bills at the start of the trip, he said.
He said the Hyattes told him they needed to get to Columbus for an Amway convention.
"I didn't believe that," Wagers said at a Thursday news conference. "But they gave me no cause [to be] suspicious, other than the Amway thing didn't really stick."
When asked if the suspects seemed worried about being noticed, Wagers said "there was no whispering, it was not a hush-hush situation. To them, I was just a normal cab driver."
He said that in his experience, real Amway sellers are aggressive about their products.
A SWAT team nabbed George and Jennifer Hyatte without incident at an America's Best Value Inn in Columbus, Ohio, nearly 300 miles north of Kingston, said Mark Gwyn (search), director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Jennifer Hyatte had some injuries, he said, declining to elaborate.
"We have found weapons [at the motel]. We don't know if it's the murder weapon, but we're processing those," Gwyn said.
Jennifer Hyatte is accused of shooting Guard Wayne "Cotton" Morgan (search) dead after ambushing him and his partner as they escorted her husband from a courthouse hearing in Kingston, Tenn.
Roane County, Tenn., Sheriff Dave Haggard said Thursday that he would recommend the death sentence for the pair.
"I'm sure they can get a fair trial in this state," Haggard said.
Jennifer Hyatte had been a prison nurse when she met her future husband. She was fired last year for sneaking food to him but a few months later, she got permission from the warden to marry him.
George Hyatte had a long and violent criminal record. Before the escape Tuesday, he had been in court on a robbery charge.
It was at least the fifth time he had gotten away from law enforcement officials. The other escapes were from local authorities in east Tennessee in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 2002.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.