Fugitive arrested after escape

Nine hours after he escaped from the Randolph County Courthouse wearing one handcuff, officers with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office found 34-year-old Derek Armstrong hiding behind an outbuilding at his girlfriend’s residence.

Armstrong had been sentenced to two years in the regional jail on domestic battery charges and remanded to the custody of the RCSO approximately 10 minutes before he told jailers he needed to go to the bathroom Thursday morning.

Armstrong then slipped out of one of his handcuffs and escaped down the back steps of the Randolph County Courthouse, Sheriff Mark Brady said shortly after the incident occurred.

But freedom didn’t last long for Armstrong.

Between 6 and 6:30 p.m., Cpl. B.A. Talkington and Deputy J. Williams found Armstrong hiding behind an outbuilding at his girlfriend’s residence on Harpertown Road, near Davis & Elkins College, Brady said.

“He took off running, and a foot race ensued, but the deputies were able to run him down,” Brady said Thursday night. “There was a brief altercation, and then he was taken into custody and transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.”

Brady said more charges against Armstrong may be pending.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday morning, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong ordered that Armstrong be drug tested prior to the imposition of his sentence. When the results were returned, the judge wasn’t happy.

“Mr. Isner, your client lit up the screen for cocaine, and he also tested positive for suboxone,” Wilfong told Armstrong’s attorney, Phil Isner.

Wilfong asked Armstrong if he had anything to say.

“I just wanted to thank you and the court for allowing me to get therapy and see a psychologist,” Armstrong said. “It’s helped me out a lot with my kids. I apologize about the drug screening.”

Wilfong sentenced Armstrong to one year in regional jail on the first misdemeanor count of domestic battery, and one year in regional jail on the second misdemeanor count of domestic battery; the judge ordered that the sentences run consecutively, or back to back.

Wilfong was about to call another hearing to order when she learned from Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker that Armstrong had escaped.

“He will be held in contempt for disrupting this proceeding, and from the looks of it, Mr. Parker, you might have an additional charge for him,” the judge said.

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