Liz Kellar

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June 20, 2014
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Patrol-car escapee takes plea deal

A man who was on the lam for nearly four days after he escaped, handcuffed, from a sheriff’s patrol vehicle took a plea agreement in Nevada County Superior Court Tuesday that will net him 300 days in county jail.

But not before he retracted that decision and argued with both the judge and his court-appointed attorney.

John William Grimes, 31, had escaped from custody June 2 after Nevada County sheriff’s deputies had been dispatched to a residence on the 11000 block of Ridge Road for a domestic violence call and detained him.

While the deputies were continuing their investigation, Grimes reportedly was able to escape from the patrol vehicle, while handcuffed, and flee on foot.

Grimes reportedly was spotted in Grass Valley the next night but was not caught.

Grass Valley police officers had responded to East Main Street and Sierra College Drive a little after 7 p.m. June 3 after a caller reported seeing Grimes leaving a liquor store on foot.

Officers spotted a man matching Grimes’ description, who no longer was handcuffed, in the wooded area behind Chapa De, but he took off.

Grimes finally was apprehended June 5 after he reportedly tried to make a swim for it at Scotts Flat Lake.

An anonymous tipster called to report seeing a man believed to be Grimes on Santa Fe Trail near the shore of the lake.

Sheriff’s deputies did not find Grimes on an area check, but witnesses reported seeing a man matching his description jump into the water and swim toward the boat launch.

Grimes was located sitting on a bench near the boat launch area and taken into custody with no further incident.

Grimes was charged with spousal abuse, second-degree robbery, vandalism, and escape from custody with serious bodily injury.

He also was facing a petty theft charge stemming from a February arrest, charges of spousal abuse and damaging a phone in an April arrest and a violation of probation in a June 2013 case in which he allegedly tied up and assaulted a man in a robbery.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Ow initially offered a global resolution on all Grimes’ cases, with 360 days in county jail, Thursday morning prior to a preliminary hearing into the evidence against him.

Ow noted the probation violation was a felony, meaning he would have to agree to supervised probation.

His attorney, Greg Klein, said he had advised Grimes to accept the offer, adding there was an unfiled case of vehicle theft pending against him.

Grimes became argumentative, telling Judge Linda Sloven the offer was “thrown” at him and he hadn’t had time to process it.

After a recess granted by Sloven so that Grimes could confer with Klein, Ow presented an offer for 300 days. Two misdemeanor cases would be dismissed, while Grimes was to admit to violating probation.

In his newest case, he would plead no contest to a misdemeanor count of spousal abuse and a misdemeanor count of escape from custody.

In addition to the jail time, he would have to complete a one-year batterer’s program.

In the middle of that discussion, Grimes suddenly declared, “Let’s just go to prelim. This is too much. I’m not doing this.”

Sloven recessed again, and set the preliminary hearing to start at 1 p.m.

Klein again told Sloven he had advised Grimes to take the deal, which was set to be revoked.

“I want to talk to my family,” Grimes said. “I can’t process all this stuff.”

Sloven, however, told him his two choices were to take the offer or go forward with the preliminary hearing.

Grimes responded by saying he would take the offer, but added that he felt threatened.

“There’s no threat,’ Sloven told him. “Offers get taken away … You have free will.”

Klein interjected, saying, “This is not Mr. Grimes’ first rodeo. He knows the system.”

Klein told Grimes he could accept the offer or choose to roll the dice, advising him he was likely to get far more than 300 days if he pushed forward.

Grimes did take the offer in the end; he is set for sentencing July 10.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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The Union Updated Dec 25, 2014 07:51PM Published Jun 20, 2014 10:52AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.