Washington County Criminal 'Sprints' to Freedom

Monday, July 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A convicted criminal bolted out of the Washington County courthouse in Bartlesville Friday afternoon. He's still on the loose and courthouse employees say they’re still on edge.

The incident has fueled an on-going battle inside the courthouse between people who say they need better security and those who say there's not enough money to pay for it.

Police say Quinyon Manuel caused all of the uproar. A judge had just told him Friday that he was no longer on probation and had to go to prison for five years.That's when Manuel asked to talk to his lawyer in private in the hall

"I was starting to get a little nervous, because of the way he was acting, high strung," said Washington County assistant district attorney Shelley Clemens.

She says Manuel came back inside, asked to speak with the D.A., but was denied. He went back into the hallway with his attorney and that's when witnesses say he turned into a world class sprinter; nearly knocking down a court clerk on his way to freedom.

"He ran down the stairs, jumped down them, ran into the library and hid,” said Clemens. “Officers searched but were unable to locate him.”

Pam Pofahl was walking around the corner when she saw Manuel take off running. "I couldn't believe it,” Pofahl said. “You see it on television but don't expect to see it in real life. It just takes a split second and they're gone."

That's why so many people who work in and around the courts say the courthouse needs better security. Some call for more cameras in the hallway and panic buzzers under the judges' desks.

"We have a lot of concerns and they all bounce around in a bag of money," said Washington County supervisor Jim Sheetz.

Sheetz believes this courthouse has better security than most. He says he can see the need for more, but, the county has other places to put its money right now. "We've got a list of priorities, it's in the top five,” said Sheetz. “There will be more security, I just don't know when, it will depend on the budget.”