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Inmate pleads guilty in escape, asks for transfer

Ronnie Buttram pleaded guilty Tuesday to escaping from the county jail two weeks ago and asked that he be sent immediately to a state prison because of the way he is being treated at the jail.

Buttram, 21, told Circuit Judge John Thurman that since he surrendered Feb. 20, jail employees have prevented him from taking a shower and have kept him in isolation, where he slept on a metal slab with no mattress or blanket.

"My client wishes to be sentenced and sent back to the Department of Corrections as soon as possible," said Buttram's attorney, Steve Hurm.

Thurman sentenced Buttram to six years in prison for the escape, the sentence to run consecutively with his 25-year sentence for raping and kidnapping a girl from Perry and driving her to Citrus County.

Citrus County sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said Buttram's blanket and mattress were taken away as punishment for his recent disruptive behavior at the jail, but she said he has been taking showers.

"Buttram has been a discipline problem," Tierney said. "Last evening he was being destructive and his mattress and blanket were taken away. The mattress was given back today, but his blanket privilege must be re-earned."

Tierney said all four recaptured inmates are being kept in isolation and are not being allowed to have personal items in their cells.

Hurm said Buttram decided to surrender to avoid being blamed for any crimes committed by the four men who escaped with him. Hurm said Buttram called his mother, who arranged the surrender with sheriff's officials.

"He was concerned about his mother's health," Hurm said. "She was in the hospital because of stress and he didn't want to be involved in any more criminal activity.

"Mr. Buttram said he spent three nights in the wilderness and he was getting a lot of bug bites and scratches. It was not an exotic activity. As a matter of fact, he told his mother he had also hid in a dumpster and that he had nothing to eat."

Buttram's mother arranged to have deputies pick up her son on County Road 491 in the Pine Ridge area. Buttram said he had been hiding with Jerry Hinton and John Hufstetler, who were captured later the same day.

Buttram said that immediately after the breakout, Joseph Provost and Frank Wiley separated from the others. Provost surrendered Sunday in Pensacola in exchange for charges being dropped against his 17-year-old brother who allegedly helped him escape. Wiley is still at large.

In a related matter, the state attorney's office has asked Judge Thurman to dismiss Wiley's appeal for a new trial. Wiley had been awaiting a hearing on his appeal when he escaped Feb. 17.

"Why should the court go forward with the hearing if the defendant has basically left? It's just a waste of judicial resources," said Chris Herrick, the assistant state attorney who asked for the dismissal.

The judge is expected to rule on the state's request after Wiley's attorney, Julian Harrison, has looked it over.