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Probe: Guard, inmate fled state to 'cop some girls and get some drugs'

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Investigators believe a Phillips State Prison officer drove an inmate across state lines to chase women and do drugs together and didn't bother to bring him back to Georgia, according to testimony in a Friday hearing.

Corrections officer Kenneth Williams, 22, befriended an inmate in the prison's transitional program named Brian Heath Taylor, 33, and twice picked him up from a Buford air-conditioning business during work release. On July 27, Williams drove Taylor to Chattanooga, where they planned to "cop some girls and get some drugs," Georgia Department of Corrections investigator Tameka Simpson-Dumas testified in a probable cause hearing.

Taylor failed to report back to the prison because Williams, a Jefferson resident, had left him at his mother's house near Chattanooga. Taylor was later captured by Tennessee authorities during a traffic stop and brought back to the Buford prison, Simpson-Dumas testified.

Investigators linked Williams to the escape when they reviewed security footage at Arctic Air Inc. and saw Williams picking up the prisoner in his black Lexus. "Essentially, he confessed" when showed that evidence, though he stressed he was not working when he picked Taylor up, the investigator testified.

In Chattanooga, Williams rented a hotel room in his name that Taylor paid for, she said.

Williams is charged with aiding or permitting an inmate's escape and violating his oath of office. He'd been employed with the prison for roughly a year.

Taylor is imprisoned on 2008 burglary and fleeing-police convictions in Catoosa County. He was scheduled for a 2020 release,

Taylor completed one other prison stint for manufacturing methamphetamine and theft. The transitional center where Taylor was held serves as a 200-bed halfway house that allows inmates to leave prison grounds for work release.

After no argument from Williams's defense attorney, Gwinnett Magistrate Judge Mark Lewis bound both charges against Williams to Superior Court, where a grand jury will consider indicting him.

Williams is being housed without bond in J-Pod, a unit used to segregate inmates such as law enforcement officers for their protection. A Superior Court judge previously declared him a danger to the community, so bond was not discussed at Friday's hearing.