Prison escapee caught in CT hopes for compassion from judge - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Prison escapee caught in CT hopes for compassion from judge

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Fugitive Robert Stackowitz spoke exclusively to CBS This Morning. (CBS photo) Fugitive Robert Stackowitz spoke exclusively to CBS This Morning. (CBS photo)
Robert Stackowitz was found at a home in Sherman after 48 years on the run. (WFSB/CT DOC photo) Robert Stackowitz was found at a home in Sherman after 48 years on the run. (WFSB/CT DOC photo)
SHERMAN, CT (CBS) -

A prison escapee who spent nearly 50 years on the lam spoke exclusively to CBS This Morning.

The interview with 71-year-old Robert E. Stackowitz aired Monday morning.

Police said he evaded capture for 48 years, much of them in Sherman, CT.

Stackowitz escaped from a prison in Georgia in 1968. He hid in Connecticut until last week when U.S. marshals came knocking at his door.

He told CBS that he is too old and too sick to go back to prison.

After spending nearly a week in a Connecticut jail, officials said Stackowitz's friends posted his bail late Friday.

"Had a job, social security card, went to work, never had a problem," he told CBS This Morning's DeMarco Morgan.

Fifty years ago he was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison for his part in an armed robbery.

A mechanic by trade, he served time fixing school buses off site. 

"I worked over there for quite a while and one day I left," Stackowitz said. "It's as simple as that."

He said someone gave him a ride to the Atlanta airport.

"I got on a plane and flew home," Stackowitz said. "Back then they didn't have any terrorist checks."

Officials said Stackowitz assumed the name Robert Gordon and settled in the rural town of Sherman where nobody knew his past.

For 48 years, he said he lived a quiet life of working at car dealerships, teaching shop at a local high school and repairing boats for friends and neighbors at his home.

Stackowitz said he knew his past might catch up to him.

"You know, you do [know]," he said. "But after 50 years, you don't really think about it constantly."

However, at age 71, he made one mistake. He applied for social security benefits, which allowed authorities to track him down.

His girlfriend of more than 20 years was stunned.

"I said 'what? Are you sure? They have the wrong person?'" said Cindy Derby, Stackowitz's girlfriend. "I never heard nothing about Georgia."

Now, Stackowitz said he's battling bladder cancer, heart disease and diabetes. He believes extradition would be a death sentence.

He said he agreed with people who believe that since he committed the crime, he should do the time.

"But the amount of time I got for what I did I think was a little unfair," Stackowitz told Morgan.

Officials in Georgia want him back.

"The crime that he committed was a fairly serious crime," said Robert Jones, Carroll County Correctional Institution Warden. "But I think if he's truly wanting to travel the straight and narrow road then it's best to come back and try to handle these charges appropriately."

Stackowitz said he's hoping for some compassion.

"I'm hoping the judge will be compassionate," he said. "That's the best I can hope for at this point."

According to CBS This Morning, Stackowitz's attorneys are filing paperwork to have a sentence commuted this week. However, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles said it won't even consider his case until he's at least back in the state.

It's unclear if and when that will happen.

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