Former jail guard in W.Md. guilty in inmate escape

Sandra Kay Beeman, the former Allegany County Jail guard accused of helping her lover and another inmate to escape from the jail last year, was convicted yesterday of escape charges in Allegany County Circuit Court.

Beeman, 47, entered an Alford plea, which means she did not admit guilt but conceded that a conviction would result if state's evidence were presented at trial. She faces up to 10 years in prison.


The former jail guard was charged with helping Edgar Eugene Kerns, 30, and James Vernon Barnes, 35, to escape in the early morning Aug. 29. Beeman, who had worked at the jail for 10 years, has publicly admitted a romantic relationship with Kerns, who was awaiting sentencing on bad check charges when the escape took place.

Barnes was captured four days later in West Virginia, but Beeman and Kerns remained fugitives until Oct. 18, when


Canadian police captured them at a motel in Hamilton, Ontario, after the managers of another motel where the couple had stayed saw their pictures on the television program "Unsolved Mysteries."

County sheriff's officials returned Beeman and Kerns to Cumberland on Oct. 29. Beeman had originally been held on $500,000 bail in the Garrett County Jail, but she was later transferred to the Allegany County Jail, where she awaits sentencing. A pre-sentence investigation was ordered by Judge Frederick Sharer.

Kerns, who was also to have been tried yesterday, was instead in Virginia to answer bad check charges. He is being held at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, awaiting trial on the escape charges.

Kerns was sentenced last month to 18 months on the bad check charges in Allegany County. He was also charged with threatening to kill Judge Sharer.

Barnes has been sentenced to eight years for escape and other related charges. He will begin that term after he completes a 50-year term he is serving in Virginia for rape and kidnapping.