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$2 Million Sought for Life-Threatening Situations : Killer Sues Utah Prison for Letting Him Escape

July 06, 1985|United Press International

SALT LAKE CITY — A killer who made a daring daylight break from the Utah State Prison with two other convicts is suing the prison for putting him in jeopardy by letting him escape.

Murderer Walter J. Wood alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when he "inadvertently wandered into an escape-in-progress situation."

Wood, convicted murderer Wesley Allen Tuttle and kidnaper Darrell Eugene Brady strolled from the prison in civilian clothes Aug. 21, 1984. Wood and Brady were captured within hours, but Tuttle eluded authorities for six months.

Danger Tied to Forced Escape

Wood complained in the lawsuit filed this week that his forced escape put him in several life-threatening situations.

"Because of extreme fear of being shot to death, I was forced to swim several irrigation canals, attempt to swim a 'raging' Jordan River and expose myself to innumerable bites by many insects. At one point, I heard a volley of shotgun blasts, and this completed my anxiety," wrote Wood, who was acting as his own lawyer.

The lawsuit seeks $2 million in damages and "just punishment" for all "prison personnel involved in allowing inmates to escape." He also complained that, although escape charges were dismissed, prison officials continued to keep him in maximum security confinement.

Wood was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1979 slaying of a Minnesota Lutheran minister and condemned to death, but that sentence was vacated by the Utah Supreme Court.

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