Murder suspect escapes courtroom, mom turns him in

Murder suspect escapes courtroom, mom turns him in

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Dominique Smith. (Source: Jefferson County Jail) Dominique Smith. (Source: Jefferson County Jail)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A suspect charged with the murder of a young couple and their 10-month-old daughter escaped from a courtroom at the Jefferson County Criminal Justice Center on Friday.

Dominique Smith, 22, was in court on Friday morning for a bond revocation hearing. Smith is accused of violating conditions of his bond due to a new marijuana charge and Judge William Cole ordered him into custody.

Smith was cuffed and placed in the jury box with three other detainees where they waited to be taken to the Jefferson County Jail.

At some point, the judge left the courtroom, leaving two bailiffs behind. One of the bailiffs eventually stepped out too, and Smith was able to sneak out while still handcuffed around 11:15 a.m.

It's unclear how Smith was able to escape, but he also managed to get out of the cuffs. Deputies searched the nearby area, trying to find him.

Smith's mother turned him into Jefferson County authorities about an hour after the escape, according to a courthouse official.

Smith and a second suspect, Jeffrey Howell, are accused of hitting and killing Amber Verus and Ryan Culwell along with their infant daughter Rogue Marie on Birmingport Road in October 2012.

Smith went on the run after the wreck and was eventually released the next day. He was charged with murder but released on bond until it was revoked on Friday.

He's now being held without bond in connection to the murder charge. He's also being held on a third degree escape charge, which is a felony.

Smith's murder trial is set to begin in September.

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