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Inmate who protected Hawkins jailer during escape earns early release

Jeff Bobo • Feb 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

A Hawkins County Jail trusty who shielded a jailer who was being beaten during last week’s escape was rewarded Friday with an early release.

According to court records, Dwayne Allen Murrell, 52, 214 Green Wood St., Rogersville, had about seven more months to serve on a sentence of 11 months and 29 days for DUI, driving on revoked and a probation violation.

Sheriff Roger Christian said his department received permission from Circuit Judge John Dugger to release Murrell early as a reward.

The escape occurred last Wednesday about 11:30 p.m. when an inmate allegedly faked illness and then two others attacked the two jailers on duty when they opened the cell to attend to the sick inmate.

Only two Hawkins County jailers were on duty guarding 76 inmates when Travis Wayne Gunter, 26, and Bradley Allen Bond, 23, allegedly overpowered both guards and walked out the door.

According to a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report, Gunter chased one of the jailers toward the trusty sleeping area and struck the officer in the head with a sock that was stuffed with an item, causing serious injury to the officer’s head.

Christian said that’s when Murrell stepped in.

“I’m very grateful to him,” Christian said. “I’d rather not say exactly what (Murrell) did because it overlaps with an ongoing criminal investigation. About the only thing I can say is he did shield one of my officers, and when he did that the alleged perpetrator stopped the beating and left.

“Certainly he did not have to do that, and it was explained to the judge, and we wanted to let the court know what he did. Some of them wouldn’t have done anything, but this inmate took an active part in trying to protect a fellow human.”

Murrell has been in and out of the Hawkins County Jail on the current charges since June 2007, when he was arrested for DUI and driving on revoked.

He violated his probation on those charges in August 2008 and was subsequently charged again with DUI and driving on revoked. Murrell’s most recent stint in the Hawkins County Jail began Dec. 11.

Bond, who’d been in jail for allegedly beating and robbing a pizza deliver man in Mount Carmel, was captured about 200 feet behind the jail only minutes after the escape.

Gunter, who was in jail charged with armed robbery of the Kenjo Market in Church Hill, was captured by Greeneville police at an apartment complex about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Gunter was also charged by Greeneville police with the armed robbery of the Quick Stop market at the corner of Snapps Ferry Road and Kiser Boulevard three hours after his escape in Greeneville.

A third inmate, David Kelley, 20, 1172 Burem Road, Rogersville, allegedly participated in the escape but didn’t leave the jail.

In related news, Greeneville police have charged Gunter with two more armed robberies — one that occurred Dec. 26 at the Quick Stop No. 10 at 301 Asheville Highway and one that occurred May 11 of last year at that same store.

Gunter is lodged in the Greene County Jail, while Bond is being held in the Grainger County Jail.

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