A grim-faced Mary Evans, 26, was escorted back to Anderson County Jail here today after a judge increased her bond to $450,000. The Knoxville attorney is charged with engineering the escape of her convict-client days before he was to go on trial for gunning down two fellow inmates.
"She has violated the public trust and her professional trust already and possibly forfeited her law career," said District Attorney James N. Ramsay, who wanted Evans' $100,000 bond raised to $500,000. "If she's willing to forfeit that, she's willing to forfeit quite a lot."
Evans bit her lip as her father, attorney Robert H. Pentecost, offered to pledge the family's $173,000 ranch-style home on 76 acres here to free his daughter.
"Do you have any reservations knowing that if Mary doesn't appear you would lose that?" Knoxville defense attorney Bob Ritchie asked Pentecost.
"As God is my witness, I have none," he said.
Pentecost is one of three character witnesses who vouched for Evans. Tracing her life from playpen to courtroom, he said he "certainly . . . was surprised" when Evans vanished with accused murderer William Timothy Kirk last March 31. Pentecost said he had no contact with his daughter during her 139-day life on the run.
Gerald L. Becker, a Knoxville lawyer who employed Evans as a clerk during her second year at the University of Tennessee law school, praised her legal talent and called her a "self starter."
But Judge James B. (Buddy) Scott said, "I can't help but associate those crimes with her in evaluating bond."
Kirk and Evans disappeared together from a psychologist's office after she allegedly gave Kirk a gun with which he covered the psychologist and three prison guards before the two fled. Kirk was scheduled to stand trial less than a week later for murdering two fellow inmates at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary.
On April 29, he was convicted in absentia of voluntary manslaughter, assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter and aggravated kidnaping and sentenced to life in prison.
Today, Scott set bond for Evans at $50,000 on each of nine counts--four of aggravated kidnaping, four of armed robbery and one for escape. Under state law, Evans can be freed with a cash bond of $450,000, or property worth one and a half times that amount, $675,000.
"I felt the bail was much higher than necessary," Ritchie said.
Evans appeared exhausted, stifling several yawns and at times appearing on the verge of tears and laughter.
Evans and Kirk, 36, were arrested Wednesday by FBI agents outside a Western Union office in Daytona Beach and were brought here Friday night. Kirk was immediately transferred to a state prison in Nashville, 200 miles away.
Authorities said the pair were at the Western Union office to pick up money wired from an undisclosed source. Authorities said one and possibly two persons may be charged with aiding the escape.
Ramsay charged today that Kirk's lawyer, James A.H. Bell, and Ritchie visited Evans' apartment hours after she vanished and confiscated documents that the state plans to use as evidence to show she helped plan the escape.
Ritchie offered to surrender the documents, which authorities said include a receipt for a $500 money order sent to Kirk by the brother of a fellow inmate through Evans days before he fled and a power of attorney that Evans purportedly used to cash it.