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The Journal Gazette

Monday, September 09, 2013 11:34 pm

Fugitive convict accused in attack is capture

By ED WHITEAssociated Press

The Wayne County sheriff said late Monday police have taken into custody a fugitive accused of using a plastic comb to stab a sheriff's deputy.

WXYZ-TV in Detroit ( also is reporting that police say the fugitive they had previously had identified as 25-year-old Derreck White is actually a man named Abraham Pearson who used White as an alias.

Police did not immediately return calls by The Associated Press late Monday.

Sheriff Benny Napoleon said during a news conference that Pearson was taken into custody after a short chase.

"He tried to escape again but was caught," Napoleon said.

He said Pearson would face 11 additional charges related to his alleged attack and escape.

"He's looking at a considerable amount of time," Napoleon said.

He also said police had made another arrest on an existing warrant that he said may be connected to the case, and indicated the person arrested was Pearson's girlfriend.

Dozens of officers fanned out across Detroit on Monday to search for the convicted carjacker accused of using a plastic comb to stab a sheriff's deputy and escape from a downtown courthouse.

Pearson was being escorted to court for a long prison sentence for carjacking and other crimes when the attack happened, authorities said.

He repeatedly stabbed Harrison Tolliver in the neck, took the deputy's uniform, ran from the courthouse and carjacked a minivan, police said. The vehicle eventually was abandoned blocks away on the city's east side. Tolliver's injuries were not considered serious.

Some schools were locked down as helicopters passed over in the hunt for Pearson. The search focused on the east side before shifting to other parts of Detroit. Tolliver's shirt was recovered.

Police also believe Pearson might have had a radio that carries law enforcement communications.

"This criminal has only delayed his appointment with justice. He will be found," Napoleon said earlier Monday.

Tolliver, unarmed, was escorting Pearson and two other jail inmates to court on the seventh floor of the courthouse and was removing handcuffs when he was attacked with a comb that had been turned into a sharp weapon, the sheriff said.

"The part of the comb that he was stabbed with broke. It did not inflict any life-threatening injuries," Napoleon said.

He said there was nothing unusual about the courthouse escort procedure, adding, "It occurs thousands of times a year."

Pearson was recently convicted of carjacking and was facing many years in prison. He claimed he was unwittingly given a stolen car as a way to settle a debt, but Judge Dana Hathaway disagreed and found him guilty.

Defense attorney James Howarth said Pearson's mental health was an issue. He spent months at a state psychiatric center before being found competent to face trial. One expert accused him of malingering.

Howarth, however, said Pearson reported a history of hallucinations, and he wonders if mental health played a role in the escape.

"In his right mind, he would not have done this," Howarth told The Associated Press outside the courthouse. "In the year I have known him, he has never showed the slightest symptom of being dangerous. Something is very wrong. ... It may have been a final act of desperation if you don't want to go to prison."

Patricia Banford, whose van was stolen immediately after the escape, said the suspect threatened her.

"He snatched the door open and said, `Get out or I'll kill you!'" she told TV station WDIV.

The sheriff, who oversees security at the courthouse, said he would prefer to have more than one deputy escorting inmates but the county can't afford it. Tolliver, 63, joined the sheriff's department after retiring as a Detroit police officer.

"It's a dangerous job," Napoleon said. "We're streamlined as much as we can."


Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub, David Runk and Corey Williams contributed to this report.