Woman Sentenced in Dog Crate Prison Escape

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A woman who admitted helping a convicted murderer escape from prison hidden in a dog crate was sentenced Wednesday to 21 months behind bars.

Under a plea agreement reached last month, Toby Young, a volunteer who ran a dog training program at Lansing Correctional Facility, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting aggravated escape and introducing contraband — a cellular phone — into the prison.

Young, 48, admitted she smuggled murderer John Manard, 27, out of prison on Feb. 12 by hiding him in a dog crate in the van she used for the Safe Harbor Prison Dog Program she ran at the penitentiary.

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The two were at large for two weeks before being captured in Tennessee. Manard is back in Lansing and officials say he could get 10 years added to his sentence.

Under the plea agreement, Young could have been sentenced to up to 41 months in prison, but prosecutors and defense attorney Jim Yoakum agreed on 21 months.

Prosecutor Frank Kohl said he was satisfied with the deal because it ensures she will serve time in prison.

Because Young receives credit for time she already served, Yoakum said she could be released within about a year.

She would not talk to reporters and declined an opportunity to comment in court.

"She's not happy about going to prison, but she's going to make the best of the situation," Yoakum told reporters. "I think she's living up to her responsibility."

Young had run the Safe Harbor program since 2004, using inmates to train dogs from shelters to be adopted by families. Manard, serving life for a 1996 Johnson County murder, was one of her trainers. Prison officials have continued the program.

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