Authorities capture escaped Alaska felon

By Rachel D'oro

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 5 2011 6:54 p.m. MST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An inmate considered dangerous escaped from an Alaska prison on Wednesday, prompting a search that ended in the man's capture more than six hours later.

Kent Charles Matte, 44, was taken back into custody at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Wasilla, state troopers said. His escape from the Mat-Su Borough Pretrial Facility in nearby Palmer, about 40 miles north of Anchorage, was reported by another inmate in the prison's recreation yard, said Deputy Corrections Commissioner Sam Edwards.

Matte had a lengthy criminal history in Idaho, including a jail break in Madison County, according to state records there.

Matte escaped from the Alaska prison — described as a secure multi-use facility — by opening a hole in the chain-link fence of the recreation yard at the facility where he had been in custody for three months, according to state corrections officials. He then scaled a 12-foot perimeter fence, likely using his coat to shield himself from razor wire, although he did cut himself, Edwards said.

The escaped prisoner was among three inmates in the 30-foot-by-50-foot outdoor yard. No guards were present, as allowed by protocol for non-maximum security prisoners. The yard has one camera, whose footage is intermittently monitored, Edwards said.

The breach led area schools to lock their doors and entrances. It also will lead to a review of the corrections security practices, Edwards said.

Matte had been in custody since Oct. 13 on a parole violation plus new charges of theft, burglary and misconduct involving a controlled substance, according to corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz.

In Idaho, Matte was incarcerated off and on from 1983 to 2007 on a variety of offenses including the escape, grand theft, burglary and possession of a controlled substance, according to Jeff Ray, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction.

Matte's Idaho records show he moved to Alaska in 2007.

"He was under some sort of formal arrangement when he went to Alaska," Ray said.

In Alaska, Matte was convicted in 2008 on a charge of driving under the influence after a no-contest plea, state records show. He also pleaded no contest to speeding.

Wednesday's escape was the first at the facility. Schmitz said there have been other four escapes from other secure Alaska corrections facilities in the past 20 years, including one involving three inmates and another involving two.

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