CARROLLTON — Adam Horine leaned on the courtroom podium, wept and begged.
He called himself "crazy" but insisted he could represent himself. He said he was dying and needed care.
The April 22 hearing before Carroll District Judge Elizabeth Chandler stood out from Horine's many other court appearances over the years for an array of mostly minor offenses.
In a rambling, sometimes confusing dialogue with the judge, Horine, 31, his voice cracking, said he loved Kentucky, but "they are trying to force me out."
Never miss a local story.
Horine was absolutely right. Just hours later, he'd be embarking — alone — on a 900-mile, one-way bus trip to Florida, courtesy of the Carrollton Police Department.
"I should be in the hospital," Horine pleaded with the judge during the hearing. "I have mental illness, and I say things I shouldn't say. But I would never hurt anybody. I never have."
Chandler responded that Horine looked sick, according to a video of the hearing obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. And she questioned his competence to enter a plea to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and making verbal threats.
She ordered an immediate mental-health examination and transport to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for a more thorough psychiatric assessment.
Within hours, a social worker's preliminary evaluation at the Carroll County jail determined Horine was hearing voices, felt suicidal, was not sleeping, had no medication and wanted to hurt "certain people."
The next step was Eastern State, where Horine could receive the treatment the social worker and the judge thought he urgently needed.
But Carrollton police had a very different plan for Horine. They wanted him out of town and out of the state. They wanted to rid themselves of this tormented petty criminal. They wanted to make him someone else's problem.
So, just hours after the hearing, a police officer, acting at the direction of police Chief Michael Willhoite, plucked Horine from jail. Officer Ron Dickow drove him 50 miles in a police cruiser to Louisville. Arriving at the Greyhound terminal downtown before dawn, Dickow bought Horine a one-way bus ticket to Florida with money provided by the chief.
Dickow forked over the change — about $18 — to Horine. Then he sent the emotionally troubled man on a 28-hour solitary bus ride to the Sunshine State's west coast.
"This just doesn't happen. It's not supposed to happen in our system," David Harris, associate dean and a professor of criminal law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said of the actions taken against Horine.
The move seemingly defies basic accepted 21st-century police practices. It also raises questions about why police dispatched this distressed man with pending criminal charges out of state, and whether they intentionally ignored the judge's orders, according to a KyCIR review of court and jail documents and interviews with two dozen local and state officials and criminal-justice experts.
Once Horine was charged with a crime and began his trek through the system, his fate should have remained in the hands of the court, Harris said.
"And to have a police officer come in and simply say, 'No, we're not having him get a mental-health evaluation, you're just getting out of here. You're too much trouble. We don't want you here. You're leaving.' I'm sorry, that's not allowed," Harris said. "They don't have the power to do that."
It's unclear whether police thought their maneuver would go undetected. Horine, after all, was a bit of a vagrant, bouncing among temporary homes, jail and jobs. Who would advocate for him?
Today, Horine is back in Kentucky and in the psychiatric hospital, just days away from his next court appearance. The Kentucky attorney general's office is investigating the whole affair.
And in one more bizarre twist, the justice system that sent Horine to Florida had to charge him with a new crime to extradite him to Kentucky. The offense? Escape from jail, a felony.
Dogged by emotional problems from an early age, Horine was confined in mental hospitals at least twice. He got into legal trouble as a teen and quit school at 16, according to court records and his stepmother. His first encounter with adult court occurred in July 2002, at age 19, when he was charged with public drunkenness and being a minor in possession of alcohol.
More criminal charges followed, for theft, drugs, drunken driving and misdemeanor assault. Horine lived in Florida for a time, several years ago. There, he burnished his criminal record with cases involving marijuana possession and attempted burglary.
His most recent arrest in Carroll County, the one that ultimately resulted in his shipment to Florida, involved a dustup outside a grocery store a block from the rundown boarding house where he lived.
A police report of the incident details a confrontation involving Horine and a cab driver. Horine allegedly issued threats and was "cussing in public." Off to jail he went.
"He can be a really sweet kid when he wants to be, when everything goes his way. He's not a bad person," said his stepmother, Charlotte Horine, who said he called her several times during his police-sponsored bus ride and from the psychiatric hospital.
'Let's get out of here'
Adam Horine's last moments in the Carroll County jail are captured on a surveillance video. About 3 a.m. April 23, barely 14 hours after Judge Chandler ordered the Eastern State Hospital examination, officer Dickow strolled into the jail.
In the video, Dickow chats with the deputies on duty, then slouches on a chair in the corner while waiting for Horine to be brought out. One of the deputies offers Dickow some documents. Dickow declines, saying, "No, I don't need no paperwork."
Horine emerges from his cell and greets Dickow with a friendly, "What's up Ron? Me and you's gonna have a nice little conversation on the way to the 'crazy house,'" an apparent reference to Eastern State Hospital.
Moments later, Dickow puts his finger to his lips, as if signaling Horine to be quiet. Horine questions why he's in jail, telling Dickow that all he did was "threaten to kill a dog."
Dickow tells Horine, "Let's get out of here; then we'll talk."
As he and Dickow walk to the door, Horine refers to Dickow as "my favorite cop. Never handcuff(s) me." And he asks, "Do I get to ride up front with you?" Dickow says no.
With that, inmate and officer venture into the night on an unusual jaunt.
Among the documents left behind: an "inmate body receipt," which is supposed to show where Horine was being taken, and why. Those spaces on the receipt, which Dickow signed, were left blank.
"It is mystifying how Mr. Horine would be taken from the jail and placed on a bus to Florida when there was a court order for him to be evaluated at Eastern (State) Hospital," said Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan, who oversees the statewide public-defender program.
In an April 30 letter obtained by KyCIR, Carroll County Attorney Nick Marsh told the state attorney general's office that Dickow said he had been "advised" by Willhoite, the police chief, to remove Horine from the jail, take him to Louisville and buy him the bus ticket to Florida.
"This was in direct violation of two court orders" by Chandler, directing that Horine be evaluated and then taken to Eastern State, Marsh said. He asked the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into "allegations of misconduct and other criminal violations of Chief Mike Willhoite and officer Ron Dickow."
Marsh's request has been granted. The Campbell County attorney's office will be special prosecutor for Horine's pending misdemeanor case.
It's unclear where the idea of sending Horine out of state came from, though it's clear from courtroom video that Chandler was aware of a preliminary offer of relocation to resolve the case.
The practice of sending undesirables away — often called banishment — dates back centuries and isn't unheard-of today, in Kentucky and elsewhere. The maneuver is not only widely criticized, but many criminal-law experts say it's illegal for a judge to order someone out of state against his or her will.
Chandler, who has removed herself from the case, declined to be interviewed by KyCIR.
By his own admission, Horine was amenable at one point in the hearing to the idea of leaving Kentucky because it struck him as preferable to spending more time in jail.
Hours after Horine boarded the bus for his trip south, his picture remained on the jail's website. As a result, the judge and other local officials thought he was still in Carroll County, one of Kentucky's smallest, situated at the juncture of the Ohio and Kentucky rivers, midway between Louisville and Cincinnati. Chandler issued an additional court order April 24, demanding that police take Horine to the hospital that same day.
Charged with escape
The truth concerning Horine's whereabouts began to emerge April 27, and County Attorney Marsh called the attorney general's office the next day to request an investigation, which is continuing.
Campbell District Judge Karen Thomas, who is now handling Horine's case, has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday and has told key police and jail officials to be present. Those officials — Dickow, Willhoite, deputy jailer Matt Walls and jailer Mike Humphrey — all declined to be interviewed by KyCIR.
As for Horine: He arrived safely in Florida and did not harm himself or anyone else. He was arrested in Gulfport, near St. Petersburg, this month after the Kentucky attorney general's office obtained a warrant charging him with second-degree escape, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to the warrant, Horine left the jail and the state "by bus, with the full knowledge that he was under court order to be transported to Eastern State Hospital."
But Horine was hardly the only one who knew that. Unresolved are the consequences that police and jail officials might face for their roles in the relocation.
Kevin Calhoon, the attorney general's investigator who requested the warrant, declined to comment.
Horine was brought back to Kentucky on May 18 and taken to Eastern State Hospital. This time, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office handled the transport. And the county wants reimbursement of $2,470 from Carrollton police for the cost of bringing Horine back to Kentucky.
Harris, the University of Pittsburgh law professor, said officials' focus now should be not on Horine's "escape" but on those who planned and executed his release.
"The real question here is not whether or not Mr. Horine 'escaped,' because we know that he was in Florida because the police officer put him on a bus there, after getting Horine released," Harris said. "There's no way any jury would find him guilty of an escape in those circumstances.
"The important question is how and why the police got Mr. Horine released and sent him out of the jurisdiction, in the face of existing charges, obvious signs of mental distress and a court order for a mental health examination."
The police department's handling of the case deprived Horine of needed psychiatric care, Harris said, and "just dumps him on the street."