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Thump, then shouts during prisoner escape attempt

Posted: May 24, 2012 - 11:08pm

ANCHORAGE — A thump and then a chorus of screams are heard in an audio recording of an attempted escape from court by a man accused of kidnapping and killing an Alaska barista.

Israel Keyes was quickly subdued with a stun gun in the federal courtroom in Anchorage after he somehow broke his leg irons Wednesday. But for a few moments, people can be heard screaming and shouting, “Get him!” One woman shouted, “Kill him!”

U.S. Marshals said the 34-year-old Keys either tried to leap over the bar separating the public from the defendant’s table or his momentum carried him over it.

Either way, he didn’t get far.

“I knew he was going to do that. I knew it,” a woman’s voice says. Another woman is heard crying.

Soon court personnel decide to clear the courtroom.

Supervisory deputy Dave Long said the attempted escape is under investigation, but it may never be known how Keyes managed to break his leg irons, which are ankle-cuffs linked by chain.

Long said the chain was pulled off from one of the cuffs. The leg irons were fine when they were put on Keyes hours earlier, according to Long.

“I’ve been doing this 20 years and have not seen one pulled like this,” he said.

Keyes is charged with abducting 18-year-old Samantha Koenig of Anchorage on Feb. 1 from the local coffee stand where she worked. The FBI contends Keyes killed the young woman less than a day later.

Koenig’s body was recovered April 2 from an ice-covered lake north of the city.

The state of Alaska has no death penalty but prosecutors have said the crime of kidnapping and killing carries that potential under federal law. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis said Thursday no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty in the Keyes’ case.

Keyes appeared in court Wednesday so attorneys could discuss setting a trial date. His attempted escape ended the proceeding, which was rescheduled for Friday afternoon.

Long declined to talk about additional security measures to be taken for that appearance.

“I’m sure it’ll be beefed up,” he said.

Keyes’ attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Keyes, who operated a one-man construction business, was arrested March 11 in Texas. Prosecutors say he made withdrawals of ransom money using a debit card he stole from Koenig,.

A surveillance camera showed an apparently armed man in a hooded sweat shirt leading Koenig away from the coffee stand. Koenig’s friends and relatives established a reward fund and plastered the city with flyers with her photo in hopes she would be found alive.

According to prosecutors, Keyes stole the debit card from a vehicle she shared that was parked near her home, obtained the personal identification number and scratched the number into the card.

After killing Koenig, Keyes used her phone to send text messages to conceal the abduction, according to prosecutors. He flew to Texas and returned Feb. 17 to Anchorage, where he sent another text message demanding ransom and directing it to the account connected to the stolen debit card, according to prosecutors.

Keyes made withdrawals from automated teller machines in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before his arrest in Texas, according to prosecutors.

Koenig’s family said there was no apparent previous connection between the teen and the suspect.

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