The inmate who was arrested Sunday morning after escaping from an Interstate 71 rest area pleaded no contest to three charges in Ashland Municipal Court Monday.

Said El-Khatib, 33, pleaded no contest to two counts of gasoline theft from 2014 and a charge of criminal damaging from Sunday during his capture.

He was sentenced to 210 days in the Ashland County Jail by Ashland Municipal Court Magistrate Fred Oxley.

“We are here today on two theft offenses that allegedly occurred in 2014,” Oxley said, “And then a charge of criminal damaging that occurred within the last couple of days. Do you understand that this has nothing to do with any allegation of escape … do you understand that?”

“Yes, sir,” El-Khatib replied quietly.

The criminal damaging charge, a second-degree misdemeanor, involves a wood door that was broken on Sunday at the Motel 6 near where El-Khatib was found after a GOASIS clerk called police about a suspicious person walking near the gas station.

El-Khatib said he wanted to make a statement and he waived his rights after Oxley read them to him, including to his right to a trial and to have an attorney.

El-Khatib told Oxley the theft charges stemmed from when he driving from school in New Jersey to Indiana. He would stop in Ashland to get gas and would drive off from the gas station without paying because he “didn’t have enough money to pay for it," he said.

“I underestimated how much it would cost,” El-Khatib said.

El-Khatib was accused of driving off without paying for gas at the BellStores gas station on Sugarbush Drive on May 2, 2014, and Oct. 19, 2014.

On the May 2, 2014, charge, Stimpert said El-Khatib drove off four times from August 2013 through May 2014, and on the Oct. 19, 2014, charge, El-Khatib drove off nine times total. Simpert also told Oxley El-Khatib used “multiple fictitious plates to avoid detection.”

Oxley sentenced El-Khatib to 180 days in the Ashland County Jail for the first gasoline theft charge and 30 days in the Ashland County Jail for the damage to the door, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

He also was ordered to pay $1,000 in fines.

El-Khatib asked the judge why he was given the maximum sentence.

Oxley replied the maximum sentence was not given to El-Khatib — a first-degree misdemeanor charge is punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail, and a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail.

“That’s what I think you deserve under these circumstances,” Oxley said of the sentence.

El-Khatib also asked about whether he would be charged with escape.

“I don’t know,” Oxley replied. “Whatever that was, that did not happen in Ashland County. The only charges you are dealing with here in Ashland County are the two theft offenses and the damage. If there are other charges, that will take place somewhere else.”

Authorities said El-Khatib escaped after a restroom break at a southbound rest area at mile marker 197 on I-71 in West Salem. He was being transported by a private extradition service from a New York prison to his hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Charges have not been filed related to the escape.

Anne Murphy, public affairs officer from the U.S. Marshals Service, said the Marshals Service and Ohio State Highway Patrol are evaluating possible charges.

 

Dylan Sams can be reached at 419-281-0581, ext. 240, and dsams@times-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @dylan__sams.