Lamont McDaniel, an inmate who walked away from a District halfway house six times while awaiting trial, was convicted in D.C. Superior Court on Thursday of first-degree murder while armed.
The Washington Post documented McDaniel's walkaways in articles about the frequency of escapes from the city's halfway houses. The Post reported that the D.C. Department of Corrections delayed for days, and often weeks, in obtaining arrest warrants for inmates who had absconded.
After being arrested and charged with murder in 1997, McDaniel landed in a halfway house in February 1998 after the U.S. attorney's office failed to try him within 100 days. District law requires courts to begin trying a defendant by the 100th day after detention. But a defendant charged with first-degree murder or assault with intent to kill while armed may be held without time limits as long as the defendant is indicted within nine months.
The Post articles said that nearly 376 people in a three-month period in 1998 walked away from District halfway houses and that the DOC's record-keeping was so poor that officials sometimes didn't know when a walkaway had occurred or when an escapee had been taken into custody.
Two months after McDaniel was placed in a halfway house, he walked away. He was later arrested and returned. He walked away again on May 5, returning a day later. He then absconded twice in July and once in August. Each time, the U.S. attorney's office said, a judge allowed McDaniel to remain in a halfway house, despite a new charge during the August escape of possession of marijuana.
McDaniel walked away for a sixth time in November 1998. He was rearrested Jan. 27 and sent to the D.C. jail, where he was held without bond until trial.