2 La. fugitives caught in Memphis briefly in court

2 La. fugitives caught in Memphis briefly in court (Image 1)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Two fugitives from Louisiana who were captured in Memphis after evading authorities for 10 days made a brief court appearance Tuesday.

Darian Pierce, 33, and Ricky Wedgeworth, 36, are being held in Memphis on a federal escape charge. They also face charges in at least three states, including charges in the death of an Ohio businessman.

Both men made initial appearances in federal court Tuesday.  Stephen Shankman of the federal public defender's office in Memphis would not say Tuesday whether it will represent the men.

Pierce and Wedgeworth were arrested Monday after crashing their getaway vehicle in a busy southeast Memphis intersection and running away.

Police said they had stolen a government truck in Jackson, Tenn., on Monday and fled that West Tennessee city.  They were later spotted in the truck by police in Olive Branch, Miss., and were pursued north, into the Memphis area.

More than 100 officers and investigators from the FBI and local and state law enforcement agencies were involved in the search for the men, which centered around Jackson since last week.

Police believe the men chose Jackson to hide out since they escaped from Baton Rouge, La., police barracks on March 4 in a state van and made their way east.

Wedgeworth was serving time for armed robbery and Pierce for attempted second-degree murder.

They are thought to have hitchhiked to Vicksburg, Miss. before carjacking David Michael Cupps and taking his rental car March 8, authorities said.

Later that day, the men were stopped on Interstate 40 in West Tennessee but ran away and escaped from police.
Cupps' body was found at a Bessemer, Ala. hotel on March 9.

Officials said the fugitives beat and strangled Cupps, of Sunbury, Ohio.

During a news conference in Jackson on Tuesday, Louisiana state police Col. Mike Edmondson called the death of Cupps a tragedy that should never have happened.

He said he called Cupps' wife as the fugitives were being arrested.

“It was bittersweet,” Edmondson said. “She was very joyful, and of course she was very sad, very emotional.”

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