MONCKS CORNER — The Berkeley County inmate who hung out at hospitals after walking out of the jail got another 31/2 years tacked onto his sentence today.
James Sanders, 40, of Ridgeville pleaded guilty in federal court to common-law escape, failure to stop for a blue light and criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.
Circuit Judge R. Markley Dennis Jr. sentenced him to five years on the escape charge, minus credit for 526 days already served. Sanders also got credit for time served for failing to stop for a police officer. He was given 10 years on the domestic-violence charge, suspended on five years of probation.
Sanders was jailed in July 2011 for beating his girlfriend so badly she was hospitalized with a broken nose and other injuries. When a deputy turned on his blue lights to arrest him a couple days later, he led officers on a high-speed chase before being stopped with spikes in the road.
Sanders got out on bond with GPS monitoring but was put back in a cell because he failed to keep the device charged.
After sitting in jail for another six months or so, Sanders wriggled out of his handcuffs and walked out of the Hill-Finklea Detention Center on Jan. 26. Deputies later said they thought he was being released and changed some procedures to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Sanders hitched a ride to Medical University Hospital, where he took refuge in the waiting rooms for two days, according to video at the hospital.
Then he made his way up to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, where he posed as the brother of a comatose patient for about two weeks, enjoying free hospital meals and laundry service and hitting up other visitors for money during his ruse. That caper ended when the patient woke up and ratted him out.
Myrtle Beach police tracked Sanders down several days later after a woman said somebody stole her wallet on Broadway on the Beach. Sanders was arrested and returned to the Berkeley County jail March 2.
Read more here later and in Tuesday’s Post and Courier.