PORT ST. JOE – A man already serving 15 years for one escape is now serving a total of 30 years after pleading no contest to a second escape charge, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.
Rex Aaron Veasey, 31, and another inmate escaped from the Gulf County Detention Facility Sept. 7, 2021, after beating a correctional officer, dragging him into their cell and locking him inside. On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Devin Collier accepted the defendant’s plea to Principal to Escape and Principal to Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer. The defendant will begin serving this 15-year sentence when he completes the 15-year sentence from his 2020 escape from the same facility.
The first escape came on Oct. 27, 2020, when the defendant scaled two fences to escape from the detention facility’s recreational yard. He was captured about 4 hours later by Bay County the sheriff’s deputies acting on tips law enforcement received. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading no contest that escape charge.
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Gulf County Chief Prosecutor Tracy Smith was prepared to call witnesses and present evidence that the defendant, who had been arrested for Sexual Battery, False Imprisonment, and Aggravated Assault, and a co-defendant were inmates at the facility when they attacked a correctional officer and dragged him into their cell, where they continued to strike him. The two locked the officer in the cell and ultimately made their way into the jail’s kitchen, prying the AC unit from the wall and escaping through the hole that created. Officers from multiple agencies converged and through the use of tips, drones, helicopters, tracking dogs from law enforcement and the Department of Corrections, the defendant was captured in Franklin County about 10 hours after his escape.
“The outpouring of assistance from multiple agencies across the region resulted in the defendant being caught the same day. This demonstrates that our law enforcement agencies put the public’s safety first,” Smith said. “Our prosecution and resulting prison sentences on those cases show our support for that mission. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep our neighborhoods safe.”
Basford thanked all of the law enforcement agencies involved for their collaborative efforts in capturing the defendant and the evidence they gathered that helped lead to a plea.
For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at email@example.com, or call 850-381-7454.