IONIA, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - A man serving life for his role in four murders was sentenced Tuesday to 30 to 50 years for escaping from a Michigan prison and kidnapping a woman during his attempted getaway.
Michael Elliot, 41, pleaded guilty to escape and no contest to kidnapping and carjacking charges Sept. 18.
Ionia County Circuit Judge David Hoort sentenced him Tuesday to 30-50 years for carjacking, 23-50 years for kidnapping and 2-5 years for escape.
Elliot escaped Feb. 2 from Ionia Correctional Facility and stole a Jeep with a woman inside. She managed to escape when they stopped for gas about 100 miles away and called 911. Police then chased and captured Elliot on Feb 3. in LaPorte County, Indiana.
Elliot was already serving life in prison without the possibility of parole, the mandatory penalty in Michgan for first-degree murder. He was convicted for taking part in the 1993 killing of four people. A co-defendant admitted pulling the trigger, and Elliot has repeatedly said he was innocent.
In court Tuesday, Elliot said he was sorry and that he didn't intend to hurt the woman.
The woman told the judge she now has post-traumatic stress disorder and asked the judge to have Elliot imprisoned somewhere else.
According to a March report by the state Corrections Department's internal affairs division, Elliot escaped by using a hook from his locker to clear snow by a fence and crawl under. Wearing all white to blend in with snow, Elliot stopped and lay still near the vehicle gate as a perimeter patrol vehicle passed by a few times. He used hobby craft scissors and his belt to open the chain link fencing.
Elliot could have been detected if alarms near the gate were properly activated, the report concluded. A control center officer failed to reset two alarms for 5 and-a-half hours after they were tested, and a supervisor who noticed the problem left when her shift was over without notifying others to check the gate.
Investigators said the failure to reset the alarms was a "critical error" that played a "major role."
An alarm sensor in another area of the facility was also misaligned and pointing too high, allowing Elliot to crawl underneath an invisible detection beam without being noticed.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their Gladwin County house in 1993 when he was 20-years-old. He and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.
Elliot claims to be innocent of the slayings.
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