Kentucky police chief ships mentally ill inmate to Florida against judge's orders, then charges him with escape


© Carrollton Police Department
Adam Horine

Defying a court order to take a mentally ill inmate to a state hospital for observation, a Kentucky police chief bought a one-way ticket to Florida for the man, sending him on a 28-hour bus ride, only to have the state extradite him back by saying he escaped.

According to investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Carrollton Police Chief Michael Willhoite spent $18 of his own money to rid himself of 31-year-old Adam Horine, instead of following a judge's order to send him to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for a thorough psychiatric assessment.

Defending himself while appearing before Judge Elizabeth Chandler for threatening a cab driver and "cussing in public," the itinerant Horine begged the court for help, claiming he was mentally ill and saying "things I shouldn't say."

Chandler ordered sheriff's deputies to take Horine to the hospital, but he was first transported back to county jail where a social worker evaluated him, reporting that Horine was hearing voices, felt suicidal, couldn't sleep, and wanted to hurt "certain people."

Despite the judge's order and the evaluation, Chief Wilhoite instructed officer Ron Dickow to drive Horine 50 miles in a police cruiser to Louisville where Dickow bought Horine a one-way bus ticket to Florida with money given to him by the chief.

"This just doesn't happen. It's not supposed to happen in our system," said David Harris, professor of criminal law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. "And to have a police officer come in and simply say, 'No, we're not having him get a mental-health evaluation, you're just getting out of here. You're too much trouble. We don't want you here. You're leaving.' I'm sorry, that's not allowed. They don't have the power to do that."

Horine, who has previously been confined to mental hospitals twice, found himself in Florida, where he was later arrested in Gulfport after the Kentucky attorney general's office issued a warrant for his arrest. The charge: , a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. According to the warrant, Horine left the jail and the state "by bus, with the full knowledge that he was under court order to be transported to Eastern State Hospital."

However in an April 30 letter obtained by KyCIR, Carroll County Attorney Nick Marsh told the state attorney general's office that Dickow said he had been "advised" by Willhoite to remove Horine from the jail and ship him off to Florida.

Marsh has requested the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into "allegations of misconduct and other criminal violations of Chief Mike Willhoite and officer Ron Dickow."