- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

MERCED, Calif. (AP) - Officials in Merced County say a Central California man who works for the public defender’s office helped an inmate escape from custody, landing him in jail with criminal charges of his own.

Sheriff’s Deputy Delray Shelton said the county worker, 29-year-old Steven Haywood, was driving three inmates from a drug treatment program in San Francisco to the Merced jail on Wednesday and let the 31-year-old inmate out.

Shelton tells the Merced Sun-Star (https://bit.ly/1jzuFkV ) that Haywood stopped the transport van in Atwater for no clear reason and only later told jail staff what had happened. The inmate was picked up separately.

Deputy Public Defender Caleb Hegland tells the newspaper that he doesn’t know the details, but he supports Haywood and can’t believe he would intentionally do anything wrong.

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