DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says a man charged with killing seven people in Valehermoso Springs in June 2020 — tried to escape from the Morgan County Jail.
John Legg, who is facing multiple capital murder counts, was charged Wednesday with second-degree escape. Another jail inmate, Mashhad Lewis, who is charged in an unrelated capital murder case, has been charged with aiding an escape.
The escape attempt occurred June 26, according to court records.
Mike Swafford, public information officer for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, said the alert work of jailers meant Legg had very little time where he was unaccounted for. Swafford said investigators pulled together details through witness accounts and jail cameras. He said the two suspects didn’t cooperate with investigators.
“He basically stole the trustee uniform without someone knowing and then put in on under his clothes, his uniform,” Swafford told News 19. “And then had assistance from the other individual getting out of the pod he was housed in. Then, once outside of that, he took off his regular uniform, which then had the trustee uniform underneath it.”
Swafford said Legg began to move at that point, on his own. Swafford noted there are different types of trustee uniforms, one that signals inmates are allowed to be outside for work release and one that allows them to move within the jail. Legg had grabbed the internal movement uniform, Swafford said.
He ”proceeded to attempt to use that to move throughout the building, but thankfully, within seconds of him leaving the pod he was housed in, our master control became aware through the cameras, then alerted those in the area,” Swafford said. “And he was apprehended once he got through the hallway.”
Swafford said the escape effort was more about opportunity than careful planning.
“The happenstance part, in a separate housing pod, although they are joined by a fire door, that is secured at all times, Legg was able to pull a trustee uniform underneath that door,” Swafford said. “So without the trustee even knowing that happened. In the middle of the night, he had put it down, he thought he was stopping some water from coming under the door, when he gets up, it’s not there anymore.”
Swafford said the Morgan County Jail can hold 1,000 inmates and its current population is about 600. That means they are able to group inmates more by offense level and risk. But, he said, jailers still have to remain alert.
“We try to tell people when we can, all these people, one’s a capital murder suspect, the other possibly is a capital murder suspect, all they have is time, they aren’t going anywhere. So, it only takes them a second to exploit one lapse in security and try something like this,” he said.
Legg’s lawyers have previously argued he is not mentally competent to stand trial, because of mental illness issues. A hearing on that claim is set for September.