Former cell mate recalls time with escaped murderer

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The former cell mate of a convicted murderer who has twice slipped out of the custody of law enforcement hopes authorities find him fast.

'Ronnie,' a former cell mate of Dearick Stokes, is not proud of what landed him in a jail cell for a week with then "suspected" murderer.

"I was locked up in 201 for some stupid stuff. Got drunk," he said.

Stokes first gave authorities the slip in February, when minutes before a jury found him guilty for the first-degree murder of a robbery victim, Stokes asked to go to the bathroom and never returned to the courtroom.

"I thought he got his charges dropped," Ronnie said. "I thought, 'Darn, I'm in here for nothing and here he's getting out.'"

A month later, investigators found Stokes hiding in the bathroom ceiling of a home on Knight Arnold.  Ronnie found it strange to have been in such close proximity to someone so notorious.

"It's very shocking to me," he said.
Two months after Stokes' first break came blunder number two: Jailers released Stokes when the court dismissed an unrelated domestic violence charge from 2008.

"I don't understand how he got out," Ronnie said. "I don't know what the story is and how he got out."

But Ronnie quickly recognized his former cell mate when he heard the story.

"The way he looked with them gold teeth, the crazy gold teeth, and then I heard about him and saw him on TV," he said.

During their time together, Ronnie gave his cell mate a nickname.

"He didn't take no crap from nobody, so I named him John Wayne," Ronnie said.

Stokes is considered dangerous, and Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward if you have any information leading to his arrest. If you have information that could help police find him, call 901-528-CASH.

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