Sheriff: 'I Would Recommend Death'
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fugitive couple accused of murdering a corrections officer in Tennessee should get the harshest penalty available, Roane County, Tenn., Sheriff Dave Haggard said Thursday.
"I would recommend death," Haggard said during an afternoon press conference. He added: "I'm sure they can get a fair trial in this state."
George and Jennifer Hyatte (search), who were captured Wednesday night after pulling off a bold and deadly courthouse escape the day before, waived extradition Thursday, allowing authorities to send them from Ohio to Tennessee. They will appear in court at 10 a.m. Friday.
The pair were captured Wednesday night at a budget motel in Columbus. They were caught more than two days after the daylight escape from the courthouse in Kingston, Tenn., following a tip from a cab driver who gave the couple a lift.
Mike Wagers, the cabbie who picked them up, drove the Hyattes about 115 miles from Erlanger, Ky., to Columbus, and dropped them off at a budget 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 couple 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 were worried about being noticed, Wagers said "there was no whispering, it was not a hush-hush situation. To them I was just a normal cabdriver." Experience had taught him, he said, that 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, said Mark Gwyn (search), director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"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 (search), 31, is accused of shooting Guard Wayne "Cotton" Morgan (search) dead after ambushing him and his partner as they escorted her husband, 34, from a courthouse hearing in Kingston, Tenn.
Gwyn said the Hyattes would be brought back to Tennessee on warrants for first degree murder. They were arrested nearly 300 miles north of Kingston. Jennifer Hyatte had some injuries, he said, but he declined to elaborate.
Early Thursday authorities confirmed that George Hyatte was being held in Franklin County Jail (search) in Ohio, but would not confirm the whereabouts of Jennifer.
Authorities had already tracked the Hyattes to the Cincinnati area when they got a tip around 9 p.m. that the couple was at the Columbus motel.
After the tip, authorities surrounded the motel, said John Bolen, a supervisor for the U.S. Marshals Service in Columbus.
Authorities called the motel room where the couple was staying, told them they were surrounded, and the couple came out of their room and surrendered around 10 p.m., Bolen said. They didn't say anything during the arrest, he said.
Jennifer Hyatte came out of the second-floor room with her hands up, said motel guest Robin Penn, who was watching from her first-floor window across the parking lot.
The woman was limping but followed officers' instructions to walk down the balcony to a stairwell and get on her knees, where she was handcuffed, Penn said.
She said the man came out next, with his shirt pulled over his head. He walked backward toward the stairwell, then got on his knees and authorities handcuffed him, Penn said.
There were at least 25 officers on the motel balcony and in the parking lot, she said.
Earlier in the day, authorities had tracked down a van the couple was believed to have used outside a motel in Erlanger. The couple was gone, but authorities knew then that they were getting close.
"It seems they had several vehicles at very strategic locations and help withe escape," Gwyn told FOX News on Thursday. "We'll be investigating in the next several days if anyone else was involved in this."
Blood was found in the motel room, and an employee at a nearby restaurant told federal agents she gave directions to a couple she later recognized as the fugitives.
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 way from law enforcement officials. The other escapes were from local authorities in east Tennessee in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 2002.
Gwyn told FOX News on Thursday that it was lucky no one was injured in the capture of the fugitives.
"We knew that this couple was pretty desperate. They didn't have a lot to lose ... We were very fortunate not to have any injuries."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.