‘Shawshank Fugitive’ Frank Freshwaters Could be Freed in Parole Hearing

Frank Freshwater, 79, was arrested in Melbourne, Fla., after information was received from the Cold Case Unit of the U.S. Marshall's Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force showed that Freshwater might be staying in the Melbourne area. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brevard County Sheriff's Office)
Frank Freshwater, 79, was arrested in Melbourne, Fla., after information was received from the Cold Case Unit of the U.S. Marshall’s Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force showed that Freshwater might be staying in the Melbourne area. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brevard County Sheriff’s Office)

He spent 56 years on the run, believing he could live out his twilight years in the marshy lowlands of Melbourne, Florida. But a police ruse led to the recapture of Ohio’s “Shawshank Fugitive” last year.

Now, Frank Freshwaters could soon gain what he once desperately clung to — his freedom.

Freshwaters, who turns 80 in April, will have a parole hearing Thursday afternoon in Columbus, where lawyers will argue over whether he deserves another crack at life outside of prison.

The family of Freshwaters’ victim, Eugene Flynt, is expected to testify. Flynt was a married father of three in 1957 when a then-21-year-old Freshwaters accidentally struck and killed him with his car on an Akron street, according to Florida Today.

“In essence, he caused my life nothing but trouble,” Richard Flynt, who was 3 when his father died, told the newspaper. “I don’t think they can just pat him on the back and send him home.”

It’s unclear if Freshwaters will appear at the parole board hearing. Prosecutors told the newspaper that he deserves no clemency.

“Freshwaters failed to comply with his probation, and did not pay a dime of the $1,500 he was ordered to pay in restitution to Flynt’s family,” Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Wednesday. “Freshwaters was eventually sentenced to serve between one and 20 years in prison, yet spent only seven months behind bars before escaping in 1959. Since then, Freshwaters has lived free, had a family, and even collected Social Security under an assumed name.”

Freshwaters’ winding saga started after he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Flynt’s death. In lieu of up to 20 years behind bars, he was given a five-year probation. But he violated it, prosecutors said, and was incarcerated in the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, which became immortalized in the 1994 film “The Shawshank Redemption.”

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SOURCE: NBC News, Erik Ortiz