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Prosecutor recalls felon as intelligent, dangerous

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Jerry Sargent is someone Jim Crawford knows well.

Crawford, commonwealth attorney for Carroll County, prosecuted Sargent 20 years ago in Grant County on numerous charges.

Sargent, an escapee from a Tell City, Ind., prison, is believed to be one of three men who attacked and robbed three brothers on their Sanders farm Monday morning.

About the time Sargent was convicted by Crawford, the Grant County native was was serving time in Indiana after being convicted on charges of armed robbery and criminal confinement. Until Friday, that is, when he and two other prisoners – Bobby Cockerell III and Christopher Marshal – escaped from the medium-security facility.

Sargent “was always in and out of jail, even 20 years ago,” Crawford recalled in a telephone interview Tuesday. “He’s well known to local police and the public as an individual who spent most of his life in jail.”

In 1989, Sargent was convicted of a litany of felony and lesser charges, from wanton endangerment to drug charges, Crawford said. He said Sargent and his brother, Don, were arrested for trafficking after they were caught with 10-15 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of their vehicle. At the time of their arrest, they also led local and state police on a 25-mile, high-speed chase through Grant and Pendleton counties.

Crawford said Sargent, who even in 1989, was considered a persistent felony offiender, also was convicted about the same time in  Jefferson County, Ky. He said he believes that conviction was for rape, which earned Sargent a 20-year prison sentence in addition to the 20-year sentence he received from Circuit Judge Charles Satterwhite in Grant County.

The Indiana convictions also occurred at the same time. Because so much time has passed since he worked the case, Crawford was unable to say if the sentences from the three court districts were concurrent. If so, he said, that would mean Sargent would have to serve his time in Kentucky if he was ever paroled in Indiana.

A ‘dangerous man’

One thing Crawford said he remembers clearly, however, is that Sargent is a “very intelligent man.” That, combined with his criminal history and his imposing 6-foot, 5-inch,  210-pounds physical presence, makes him “a very dangerous individual.”

Crawford said he couldn’t say what Sargent might do if located by law enforcement. “You couldn’t predict someone like him.”

Rather, Crawford said he is more concerned for the public at large or an unsuspecting law enforcement officer who may come in contact with Sargent, or with all three men. “Anything’s possible.”

And, despite their injuries, Crawford said he believes the Marshall brothers “were extremely lucky they weren’t killed” or injured more severely.

But Crawford believes Sargent returned to the area for a reason.

“It wouldn’t shock me if Jerry Sargent is still around here somewhere,” he said. “He chose to come back into territory he knows, but why would the other two [who aren’t native to the area] come with him?”

If Sargent is apprehended, Crawford said he likely will face many more charges, in Kentucky alone – from first-degree burglary, which carries 10-20 years in prison; possession of a gun by a felon; and being a persistent felony offender, which could mean 20 years to life.

“He’s gotten himself into a very serious situation, assuming they are caught and brought back here,” Crawford said.