Trial set for man who escaped from jail


A man who escaped from the Delaware City Jail by breaking the sprinkler system was arraigned Friday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court where a November trial date was scheduled.

Benjamin H. Cope, 29, of Sunbury was in court Friday before visiting Judge Roger Wilson, who was filling in for Judge Everett Krueger. Cope entered a not guilty plea via his attorney, Stephen J. Vatsures.

Vatsures said Cope has mental problems and asked that he be allowed to leave the jail to participate in an in-patient treatment facility.

When questioned by Wilson, Cope was unable to tell the judge where he lived and said he didn’t understand what has happened.

Assistant County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sleeper said while he is not opposed to the idea of in-patient treatment, the fact that Cope escaped from police custody before makes him a flight risk and asked Wilson to set a higher bond for Cope.

Wilson set the bond at $15,000 — it was originally set at $7,500 in municipal court — and ordered that the full amount be paid. Wilson then set a trial date of Nov. 12. Sleeper estimated the case would take a day and a half if it goes to trial.

Wilson said Cope has until Nov. 5 to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Cope was indicted Aug. 19 on a charge of escape, a fifth-degree felony, and vandalism, a fifth-degree felony.

The latest incident occurred when Cope was in Delaware Municipal Court Aug. 11 to face charges of criminal damaging, obstructing official business and domestic violence, all in connection with a July 18 incident.

Cope had been brought from the Delaware County Jail to municipal court for a hearing. But while Cope was in a holding cell, he tampered with a water sprinkler head and caused the fire suppression system to start discharging water, police said.

A municipal court bailiff removed him from his cell to take him away from the sprinkler and he ran from the bailiff, police said.

He was found moments later by officers in the area of East Central Avenue and U.S. 23. He was taken into custody and charged with escape, vandalism and resisting arrest.

Police said that the fire suppression system caused significant damage to all three floors of the city’s justice center.

Cope was still being held in the Delaware County Jail Friday afternoon.


By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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