Woman who helped man escape pleads guilty

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By Calen McKinney

A former Campbellsville woman has pleaded guilty to helping a Campbellsville man flee the country after escaping from jail custody.

Lee Ann Howard, 36, also formerly of Harrodsburg, pleaded guilty last Monday in U.S. District Court to instigating or assisting escape.

According to a U.S. Attorney's office press release, Howard admitted that she assisted her boyfriend, Byron Keith Perkins, in escaping from the custody of the Oldham County Jail.

According to her plea agreement, Howard admits to providing transportation and money to Perkins for their trip to Mexico.

Perkins was released in January 2006 to undergo medical testing to possibly donate a kidney to his son. After not showing up for an appointment, authorities learned that Perkins had fled with Howard.

In March 2006, the couple was spotted in Mexico after the story aired on America's Most Wanted. The couple was arrested last April in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after being on the run for more than a year.

In addition to the U.S. Marshals' 15 Most Wanted list, Perkins and Howard were also listed on the America's Most Wanted's "Dirty Dozen" list.

Perkins currently faces burglary, assault and other charges in Taylor Circuit Court. That case is set for review tomorrow.

Court records list Perkins' address as 124 Dowell St. and 705 S. Jackson St., both in Campbellsville.

The press release states that Howard could face as much as 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years' supervised release. Her plea agreement, however, states the maximum prison sentence she may receive is five years.

The case against her was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Bonar. It was investigated by the U.S. Marshal Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

According to a second press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's office, Perkins is attempting to withdraw his guilty plea to the charges in the case he was being held for when he escaped from custody.

According to a November 2005 press release from the U.S. Attorney's office, Perkins faces life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to federal charges of robbery, use of a firearm during the robbery and selling marijuana.

The press release states Perkins' attempt to withdraw his guilty plea is now under consideration by a judge and the prosecution and defense will file briefs on Perkins' request.

Perkins now faces an additional charge of escaping from federal custody. He pleaded not guilty to that charge earlier this year and that charge will be reviewed Thursday, May 29 in U.S. District Court.

Howard also goes by the last names Spradlin, Alford and Perkins. Perkins had been using the names Keith Perkins and Eric Perkins.

Both Perkins and Howard have criminal records involving drugs and weapons, according to a March 2006 U.S. Marshals' press release, and Howard has a prior conviction for solicitation to commit murder.

Howard is facing additional charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution based on Kentucky state charges of robbery, selling marijuana and being a persistent felony offender. She also faces first-degree robbery and persistent felony offender charges in Green County.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 18 at noon in Louisville.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.