Police arrest fugitive

Justin Darland

Justin Darland

COVINGTON -- A Covington police sergeant captured a Kentucky fugitive Monday night who is now in the Newton County Detention Center awaiting extradition.

Sgt. Allen Martin received a call around 9:15 from an employee of a business in Covington Corners shopping center on Turner Lake Road that a man had been seen peering into the windows of businesses in the area. The caller said the white man was driving a large red pickup with big tires and had left the center traveling east on U.S. Highway 278.

According to CPD spokesman Lt. Wendell Wagstaff, Martin spotted the vehicle, which had a Kentucky license plate, and made a traffic stop.

"The driver produced the license of Gary Ellis, but the insurance information he gave showed that Grant Harrison owned the vehicle," Wagstaff said. "The driver stated the truck belonged to his stepbrother and that he was going to Cartersville, Ga., from Kentucky to look for a job. He said he had been at Kmart and had just stopped in Covington to eat."

Wagstaff said when Martin entered the information on the truck into his computer, it came back that the 2000 Ford F-250 was stolen out of Lexington, Ky.

"Ellis stated he had been driving the truck for a week and it wasn't stolen," Wagstaff said, adding that efforts were made to no avail to contact the listed owner and the driver couldn't produce anyone to verify his story.

He was arrested and transported to the Newton County Detention Center. Once at the jail, the man known as Ellis asked to speak to Sgt. Martin again and confessed that his real name was Justin Darland, that both the driver's license he had produced and the truck he was driving were stolen and that he was wanted for escaping jail in Jessamine County, Ky.

Maj. Allen Peel of the Jessamine County Sheriff's Office said authorities there were appreciative that Darland was nabbed and would be returning to Kentucky once his legal obligations in Georgia were resolved.

"He used another inmate's name and information to get released from our jail on April 25," Peel said. "The person whose name he used was Robert White. They called for him (White) and (Darland) jumped up and he had memorized his information and was able to give it to them ... I don't think they look alike ... but it wasn't discovered until about an hour later when Bobby White's girlfriend came to pick him up. They told her White had been released and she said, 'Oh, no, he hasn't,' and they found out what happened. He (White) was charged with complicity."

Peel said Darland, 29, escaped on his birthday. He was in jail pending trial on a laundry list of infractions, including theft of identity, burglary and being a persistent felony offender.

Peel said Kentucky would extradite when Georgia charges, which are theft by receiving stolen property and giving false information to a law enforcement officer, are resolved.