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Court appearance for men accused in jail escape

Updated: Friday, July 12 2013, 07:50 PM EDT

Rochester, N.Y.--- Two men accused of escaping from the Monroe County Jail appeared in court Friday morning along with two other defendants facing charges related to that escape.

Eddie Palmer and Joseph Mitchell are still waiting to learn when they will go to trial.  The men are accused of using saw blades to cut through the bars on a second story window at the jail back in March.  Authorities say the men then broke a jail window and jumped to a short-lived freedom.

They were captured a week later hiding in a trailer in Sodus, Wayne County.

In court Friday, Palmer’s mom spoke about her son’s arrest and the case against him and others.

“All I want him to do is do what he’s supposed to do and if he has to do his time then do it with pride,” said Leslie Palmer.  "There is some mystery and some has (information) opened up as you guys know.  It wasn't just them and they didn't do it just on their own, they did it with some help.”

James Thomas, 44, another jail inmate at the time of the escape is one of those accused of helping Palmer and Mitchell.  Thomas is charged with possessing dangerous prison contraband; in this case a cell phone and charger.  His lawyer argues that neither can be considered “dangerous” contraband and she hopes her client’s felony charge is at least reduced to a misdemeanor-level charge.

Rudolph Lepore, a long-time Rochester lawyer, faces a single charge of promoting prison contraband.  Authorities suspect Lepore of bringing that cell phone and charge into the Monroe County Jail and allegedly passing it to Thomas who was a former client of Lepore’s.

"It's still early, there are a lot of legal questions that still need to be answered,” Peter Pullano, Lepore’s lawyer said of the case against his client.  “There will be, as there is in any case, plea discussions and if need-be then we go to trial.”

Mathias Smith of Wayne County is due to appear in court on Monday, August 1st to answer to charges that accuse him of helping Palmer and Mitchell hide in a trailer he owned in Sodus. 

The sixth and final defendant in this case is Lakesia Binion who pled guilty before a Monroe County Grand Jury returned an indictment against the other five defendants.  Binion’s exact role in the escape is not known and prosecutors refuse to comment specifically on the plea deal she received and her level of cooperation.  Sources have told 13WHAM News that Binion is believed to be the person who helped smuggle into the jail a saw concealed inside a Bible.  It is presumed that that saw was used to cut the jail bar enabling Palmer and Mitchell to escape.

“I'm not going to comment on who is and who is not cooperating,” Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Schwartz said.  “Essentially the only reason that she (Binion) is not included in this indictment (is) because of her agreement to plead guilty prior to the filing of the indictment.”

Four of the five defendants are scheduled to return to court on August 18th where the judge will hear various arguments on legal motions.  It is possible some of these defendants stand trial jointly unless their lawyers successfully argue to separate individual cases from the indictment as a whole.

Court appearance for men accused in jail escape

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