Hospitals have sent the Baltimore County government more than $25,000 worth of medical bills for the care of a man who was injured while trying to escape from jail, but the local sheriff doesn't think the taxpayers should have to foot the bill.

Injuries including a shattered left ankle, torn ligaments and four broken vertebrae were suffered by Jody P. Sanders, 21, of Chase, Md., when he fell 35 feet from a rope made of bed sheets during an attempt to escape from the County Detention Center in Towson, Md., along with eight other inmates on March 20.

Sanders, who was awaiting trial on assault and robbery charges, was hospitalized for 123 days, first at the Shock Trauma Center of the University of Maryland, then at the Montebello Rehabilitation Center.

Sheriff Charles Hickey said yesterday: "As far as I'm concerned, Baltimore County is not responsible . . . Nobody forced him into that escape." County Solicitor Leonard S. Jacobson said the county is investigating its liability in the incident.

Sanders, wearing a body cast, was released in custody of his parents last month. A metal rod has been implanted in his spine and screws are holding his ankles together. His left leg is in a cast and he wears a brace on his right leg.

Yesterday county prosecutors dropped all charges against him. Deputy State's Attorney Howard Merker cited Sanders' physical condition as the reason.