Family defends man who led police on Monroe Co. chase

Family defends man who led police on Monroe Co. chase

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MONROE COUNTY, Ga. -

Family members are defending a man accused of escaping police custody and leading officers on a wild chase in Monroe County.

The pursuit began on Wednesday when police say 36-year-old Jeffrey "Keith" Sligh ran out of a courtroom after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on arson and burglary charges. Police say Sligh first crashed his own truck and then somehow got into a sheriff's deputy's vehicle. Sligh was taken back into custody after another cruiser crashed into the one Sligh was driving.

Sligh's father, Tony Sligh, told FOX 5 he believes his son was desperate after being convicted of a crime he didn't commit, and that led him to make some very bad decisions.

Keith Sligh and his brother, Mark, were accused of burning down a neighbor's home in Jackson, and stealing a couple of four-wheelers. The family says Mark admitted to committing the crime in a letter he wrote before his suicide in August.  More importantly, they say, he wrote that Keith was not involved.

A jury relied on other evidence, including DNA evidence, and they found Keith Sligh guilty.  His father believes the shock of a conviction he wasn't expecting made him desperate. 

GBI investigators say Sligh had a gun in the truck he used as a getaway vehicle and they're looking into the possibility that he planned the escape.  Sligh's father and his lawyer both argue that is absurd.  They say he was out on bond for months before his trial, and if he wanted to get away, he would have done it long ago. 

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