Officer testifies in DMC escape case

ELKINS — Testimony was heard Thursday from a correctional officer who was allegedly attacked by a Huttonsville Correctional Center inmate before he escaped from Davis Medical Center, where he was receiving treatment.

Carson White, the alleged victim, testified in the case of Mark Duwayne McAtee, 23, a HCC inmate, who is charged with one felony count of escape from custody of commissioner of corrections and one felony count of malicious assault. His bond is set at $250,000 cash-only.

During the preliminary hearing in Randolph County Magistrate Court, White said he went to DMC at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, to supervise McAtee at the facility as he was receiving treatment because he had “swallowed a couple things.”

According to testimony, at approximately 2 a.m., McAtee, who allegedly had one arm and one leg shackled to the bed, was able to free himself and attack White, who was preparing to plug in his cell phone and use the restroom, with his own baton.

“I just, honestly, felt something exploding in my head.

“I didn’t know what it was at the time,” White said. “I fell and seen him on top of me. I glanced and seen the baton on the ground so I assume I got hit with that.”

White said McAtee told him if he didn’t fight back he would not kill him.

“The only thing I really remember is him being on top of me. He told me he wouldn’t kill me if I didn’t fight back so I really tried not fighting back,” White said.

After being attacked, White testified McAtee removed his pants and boots before handcuffing his hands behind his back. Inside the pockets of the pants were the keys to White’s vehicle, which contained a key fob to allow the car to be easily identified, according to testimony.

“I remember him taking my cell phone and my pants off of me, and my boots,” White said.

White said, after handcuffing him, McAtee made a phone call to an unknown recipient, placed a pillow under his head and left the hospital room.

After ensuring McAtee had left the area, White went to the nurses’ station before being transported to the emergency room, where he received 12 staples for a “gash” in his head, according to testimony.

During cross-examination by McAtee’s defense counsel, Brian Bailey, White said McAtee told him he was able to “pop” the shackles using a straw.

“How did he do this if he was shackled?” Bailey asked.

“His words, he popped them with a straw. He told me he popped them with a straw after everything was done and over with, before he left,” White testified.

After hearing testimony from White, the prosecution called Cpl. D.R. Wolford Jr., of the West Virginia State Police, who was called to assist the Elkins Police Department in searching for McAtee once he escaped from the hospital.

Wolford testified that he was stationed at the intersection of U.S. 33 and Old U.S. 33 while officers patrolled Bowden and in the area of Revelle’s Campground, where McAtee was subsequently found by other officers during the morning hours of Dec. 8.

Wolford said officers were searching any vehicles that were coming out of the area and not allowing anyone to enter the area while the search was conducted.

During closing arguments, Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling asked that the judge rule probable cause for McAtee’s arrest be found and the case be bound over to the Randolph County Circuit Court for presentation to a grand jury.

“Your honor, based upon the testimony of the state’s witnesses, the state would ask the court to find probable cause that the defendant, Mark Duwayne McAtee, did commit the act of malicious assault on a corrections officer who was entrusted with his supervision at Davis Medical Center, on or about Dec. 7, 2016, when he attacked him with his own baton, causing him to have 12 staples in his head and then, based upon the officer’s statements, that the defendant said he would not kill him if he cooperated,” Poling said.

“As a result of him being in custody for the DOC, the state believes there has been probable cause to show that he has a felony escape from the custody of the Commission of Corrections as he was currently an inmate of Huttonsville Correctional facility, and asks this court to bind this case over to circuit court,” she continued.

Bailey said, during his closing argument, that according to state code, a malicious assault charge must involve shooting, stabbing, cutting or wounding with an intent to maim, disfigure, disable or kill, which he did not believe the prosecution had shown.

“I think, if we heard the testimony correctly, I think the intent was for him to escape, not to kill this man,” Bailey said.

Randolph County Chief Magistrate Rob Elbon ruled that probable cause had been established by the prosecution and bound the case over to the Randolph County Circuit Court for presentation to a grand jury.

Shortly after 3 a.m. on Dec. 7, McAtee allegedly fled in a 2005 Ford Taurus. Hospital security footage showed he exited DMC going south toward U.S. 33, police said.

The vehicle was discovered, still running, at about 5 a.m. near Revelle’s River Resort off U.S. 33 near Bowden. Law enforcement agencies, including multiple K-9 units, from around the area assisted with the search, officials said.

McAtee was captured in the campground area at about 10:30 a.m. the same day, by the West Virginia Division of Corrections CERT team and members of the West Virginia State Police.

Earlier on Dec. 7, downtown Elkins businesses were on lockdown as a precaution, as threats had been made while McAtee was at the hospital, officials said. Members of the Elkins Police Department stood watch at DMC until about 7 a.m., as a precaution.

McAtee was believed to be armed and dangerous, with what was described in police scanner traffic as a homemade “shiv.”

He was sentenced to 1-15 years for burglary by breaking and entering in Harrison County on July 8, 2013. His intake date at HCC was Oct. 10, 2013, and his projected release date is Aug. 24, 2020, according to the West Virginia Division of Corrections website.