George Jackson's short flight to freedom began on a toilet seat and ended in a bathroom about 30 feet across the hall from the courtroom in D.C. Superior Court where he faced arraignment on a burglary charge yesterday.

Jackson, 25, was being held with about eight other prisoners in a holding area behind Courtroom 17 on the third floor of Superior Court building "A" about 11:45 a.m. when he stood on the toilet and punched a hole in the ceiling, according to George K. McKinney, U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia.

McKinney said Jackson then climbed into an overhead crawl space and inched about 30 feet before punching or licking his way through plaster beneath him. As Jackson was climbing down, several deputy marshals closed in and captured him in a bathroom near the jury room of another courtroom where a group of jurors was beginning deliberations on a case.

None of the jurors saw Jackson, McKinney said, but they heard noises in the ceiling and alerted deputies who cleared jurors from the room and waited for the suspect's descent.

According to McKinney, rain may have leaked through the roof and loosened the plaster, allowing Jackson to try his escape. Jackson will be charged with attempted escape, McKinney said.