Inmate who crashed car into crowd at Wal-mart escapes for at least the second time

jkegley@herald-leader.comNovember 2, 2012 

A Kentucky man who drunkenly crashed a car into a crowd of people outside a Lexington Wal-mart in 1999 is making another break for freedom.

Perennial escapee Ronny Ray Stutes, 49, was one of two inmates who walked away from the Marion County Adjustment Center on Friday morning, according to a news release from state police. It is at least the third time Stutes has been on the run and at least the second time he has walked away from a minimum-security facility.

Following the 1999 crash in which 12 people were injured, Stutes was charged with numerous counts of assault, wanton endangerment and drunken driving.

According to archived cases on the Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney's Web site, Stutes bonded out of jail before trial and skipped a court hearing in 2000. He was captured by a fugitive task force, tried and sentenced to 16 years in prison, the prosecutor's office said.

While serving that sentence, Stutes walked away from a Newport halfway house in June 2011, stole a car from a Florence Toyota dealership and robbed a bank, according to media reports. A U.S. Marshal's task force recaptured him the following month in Lafayette, La., the reports said.

According to Friday's news release, Stutes, who was serving time for several charges including bail jumping and second-degree escape, and inmate Kenneth Gibson, 55, who was serving time on drug and robbery charges, left the Marion County facility at 9:18 a.m.

Lexington resident Frieda Downey, one of 12 people injured by Stutes in the Wal-mart parking lot, said she was stunned Friday to hear reports of another escape.

"I just don't know how this keeps happening," she said. "Each time his crimes get more and more grandiose ... After his last escape, he should have been in a maximum-security prison."

Anyone with information about Stutes or Gibson is asked to call Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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