TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The man dubbed Florida’s “prison Houdini” after seven escapes is about to be released following a four-year-sentence that almost became life behind bars.
Mark DeFriest went to prison at age 19, accused of stealing the very mechanic tools his father left him in a will. But he escaped and kept on escaping, each time getting more prison time. He has now served 35 years. His original sentence eventually expanded to a 2085 release date, when he’d be 124.
Now, Florida’s parole commission is giving him another chance, voting Wednesday to move up his release date to March 2015.
A documentary filmmaker says DeFriest got trapped in a prison system that can’t handle people with mental health issues. His lawyer calls the case a family matter that got out of hand.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.