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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Prisoner who escaped from Boise hospital enters court plea. Will he face a jury?

By Sally Krutzig Idaho Statesman

BOISE – The Idaho prisoner charged with planning and staging a violent escape while at a Boise hospital, after which he evaded law enforcement for 36 hours, pleaded guilty to some – but not all – of his charges Wednesday afternoon.

Skylar Meade, 31, appeared before 4th District Judge Nancy Baskin at the Ada County Courthouse wearing a yellow prison suit. He answered Baskin’s questions in a calm voice, responding politely with “yes, ma’am” and “that’s correct, ma’am” throughout the hearing.

Meade pleaded guilty – without any plea agreement – to escaping from prison and an enhancement for being a persistent violator, telling Baskin that he understood the enhancement could bring his sentence from a five-year maximum to life.

Meade entered the plea despite being unable to review all of the evidence against him yet.

“He believes that there’s a strong factual basis, regardless of what’s written down on paper or filmed on videos,” defense attorney Rob Chastain said in court.

Meade did not enter pleas for two enhancements related to causing bodily injury to others while the crimes were committed. Those charges could go to trial, but Baskin said she would give prosecutors time to decide how to proceed, and discuss that at Meade’s next hearing, which is set for June 20.

Meade escaped Idaho Department of Correction custody on March 20 after his alleged accomplice, Nicholas Umphenour, 28, ambushed IDOC officers at Boise’s Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where Meade was receiving treatment for self-inflicted injuries. Boise police said Umphenour shot two of the officers, while a third was mistakenly shot by police.

Officers arrested the two men in the Twin Falls area on March 21, according to Idaho State Police. Authorities said they also linked the two men to two North Idaho homicides – one in Nez Perce County and another in Clearwater County – that happened in the time window when they were at large, but prosecutors have not charged the men in those killings.

At the hearing, the defense hinted at additional charges for Meade.

“There are a number of other investigations going on concerning the history of Meade, perhaps in other counties, and perhaps federal investigations,” Chastain said.

Meade waived his right to a mental health screening and Chastain said his client was “not prepared to cooperate” with one. Mental health evaluations are done to provide judges with context for a defendant, and they potentially affect legal proceedings and sentencings.

Meade’s previous crimes included officer assault, drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Baskin set Meade’s next hearing for 2:30 p.m. June 20 at the Ada County Courthouse.

Umphenour has been charged with six felonies, including three counts of assault or battery upon certain personnel. He has a hearing set for May 29.