Clausen

Timothy Clausen appears in Lancaster County Court, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, via video link from the Lancaster County Jail. 

One of two inmates who sneaked out of the Lincoln Correctional Center in a large laundry cart last year has pleaded guilty to escape.

Timothy Clausen entered his plea as potential jurors waited outside the courtroom for jury selection to begin. His last-minute deal with prosecutors includes the possibility he'll get to serve his sentence out of state.

Clausen and Armon Dixon led law enforcement on a manhunt when they escaped the Lincoln prison June 10, 2016.

Dixon, 38, pleaded and was sentenced for his part in the crime in February.

Now, Clausen, 53, will get at least 10 years in prison when Lancaster County District Judge Andrew Jacobsen sentences him in January on charges of escape with a habitual criminal enhancement, felony theft and fleeing arrest.

Moments after he entered his plea Monday, Brandon D. Williams, who was going to be called as a witness, was brought into the courtroom and pleaded no contest to escape for helping them get away.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Eric Miller said Williams, an inmate at LCC, worked in the prison laundry and could be seen on prison video helping them get into a laundry cart, locking it and putting it on a large truck that eventually left the prison headed for Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

The cart was about the size of a touring band's gear.

By the time the truck got to U.S. 77 and Warlick Boulevard, the escaped inmates had used a metal bracket from the prison's shop area to break out and were spotted running in prison clothes, Miller said.

Witnesses called 911 thinking they looked suspicious. Miller said word got back to LCC, where they did a headcount and learned the men had escaped.

Clausen and Dixon stole a work truck from a nearby church, and, with Clausen at the wheel, were chased by a Nebraska State Patrol trooper.

They got away then, but police arrested Dixon the next day after he attacked a mother and daughter in their Lincoln apartment. Clausen was arrested four days later in Omaha.

Miller said Williams originally denied he had helped them, but admitted it after he was shown prison surveillance video. He said he was supposed to get $5,000 from each.

Miller said in exchange for Clausen's plea that he would seek a habitual criminal enhancement for only one of the three felonies. Otherwise, he would have faced at least 30 years in prison on the charges, with no chance to get credit for good time.

Clausen's attorney, Randy Ritnour, said the Department of Correctional Services also agreed to help facilitate Clausen's request to serve his sentence in another state, if another state agrees.

Miller said in exchange for Williams' plea he agreed not to allege he is a habitual criminal. As it is, he can only get four years in prison at his sentencing in December.

In February, Dixon pleaded no contest to escape and second-degree assault and got 49 to 80 years added to his sentence.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.

Reporter

Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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