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Crime & Courts

Crystal Lake escapee pleads guilty, sentenced to 2 years in prison

WOODSTOCK – A man who escaped from the back of a squad car while handcuffed and then eluded capture for more than 12 hours has been sentenced to two years in prison.

James R. Henson, 45, pleaded guilty on Friday to criminal damage to government-supported property, a Class 4 felony. Additional charges, including escape and burglary, were dropped as part of the plea deal accepted by McHenry County Judge Gordon Graham.

With credit for time served, Henson could be released from custody in late February as he is still serving time for parole violations, said his attorney, Bill Bligh.

Henson was first arrested on Oct. 19, 2011 by the McHenry County Sheriff's Office after a property owner reported a trespasser in a barn on Terra Cotta Road near Crystal Lake at about 6 p.m.

At about 7:30 p.m. while near Hillside and Walkup roads, Henson kicked out a squad car's rear driver's side window and escaped, police said.

He remained missing throughout the night until Crystal Lake police received a report of a burglary in progress at a ComEd station on Knaack Boulevard.

Henson was captured in a wooded area at Taser-point, not wearing the handcuffs, police said.

Henson has a lengthy criminal record, with convictions in McHenry, Kane, and Lake counties that include burglary, forgery, criminal damage to property and possession of a stolen vehicle.

About eight months before the escape case, a jury found Henson not guilty of burglarizing a Crystal Lake church, although a can of Busch Light beer found at the scene had his DNA on it.

A month after that verdict, Henson pleaded guilty to a separate theft case and was sentenced to four years in prison.

He had been out of prison on parole for about four months when he was arrested on the escape case.

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