The 60-year-old woman who goes by the name of Jamie Lewis said at a court hearing Thursday in San Diego she's not Michigan fugitive Judy Lynn Hayman. (Christian M. Rodas / AP / U-T San Diego)
A woman who police say escaped from a Michigan prison 37 years ago and was living in San Diego denies she is who authorities say and plans to fight extradition.
The 60-year-old woman who goes by the name of Jamie Lewis said at a court hearing Thursday in San Diego she’s not fugitive Judy Lynn Hayman, an official said.
Richard Madruga, deputy San Diego County district attorney, said the woman has hired an attorney to represent her.Defense attorney Lisa Damiani could not be reached by The Detroit News for comment Thursday.
But in court, the Associated Press reported, Damiani told the judge: “We are not prepared to admit identity.”
The woman, with her long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, stood before the judge and did not turn around during her brief court appearance. Her clean-cut, 32-year-old son attended the hearing but declined to speak to reporters, following Damiani’s instructions.
Her case was continued to Friday afternoon when, Madruga said, the district attorney’s office will charge the woman with being a fugitive from justice. The woman will plead not guilty, Damiani said.
San Diego district attorneys have informed the Michigan Department of Corrections the woman is challenging extradition, said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the department. In the meantime, she’s is being held in the San Diego County Jail.
If the woman continues to deny she is a fugitive, the judge will likely set a hearing in 10 days to determine her true identity, Madruga said. Prosecutors will have to prove she is the woman who escaped from the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti on April 14, 1977.
According to the corrections department, Hayman served eight months of an 18- to 24-month sentence for trying to steal clothes from a Detroit-area store.
“It’s not that we want to bring her back to Michigan,” Marlan said. “We don’t have a choice. A prison sentence was imposed and she left prior to completing it. She still has to carry out that sentence.”
Lewis was arrested Monday after San Diego police went to an apartment to question a woman matching Hayman’s description. The woman who answered the door identified herself as Jamie Lewis and produced government documents with the name, San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said.
Officers remained suspicious because of inconsistencies in her story and her resemblance to an old mug shot they were holding. They took her to a police station, where she eventually acknowledged being Hayman, Mayer said.
Neighbors at her well-kept, nondescript apartment complex said Lewis lived there for several years.
Theresa Padilla said she lived next door to Lewis for more than six years and described her as a “quiet loner, but basically a nice person.”
She said Lewis spent most of her time indoors except when she walked her Chihuahua, Monty, who was old and had to be put down less than a year ago.
Lewis had photos of three sons on her wall, and at least one son visited often, taking out her trash and doing other chores, Padilla said. “Her three boys seemed like they were raised well.”
The 32-year-old son, was visiting his mother when police arrived, appeared stunned by officers’ questions.
Padilla said Lewis didn’t appear to be married or have a job. She said she and Lewis spoke infrequently but did share their experiences in battling cancer. Lewis also mentioned living in Detroit and being a fan of Michigan basketball teams.
If the woman is Hayman, she could face a criminal charge for the escape. The state Parole Board will determine how long she will be imprisoned.
The case is similar to that of Marie Walsh, who escaped from a Michigan prison in 1976. Walsh had served 14 months of a 10-year prison sentence for a heroin deal when she fled. She was found living in San Diego in 2008. Walsh spent 13 more months in prison then returned to San Diego, where she resumed her life with her husband of more than 20 years.
Associated Press contributed.