CHRISTIANSBURG — Cody Ryan Drain, the “Don’t Panic It’s Organic” escapee who stole a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle last December, was sentenced Monday to serve four years in prison for the Montgomery County part of his actions.
Drain, 27, of the Wythe County community of Barren Springs, will be on probation for 10 years after his release, with another 44 years of suspended time behind bars that can be imposed if he gets into trouble, Montgomery County Judge Robert Turk said.
Having entered no-contest pleas in August to 12 felony charges and seven misdemeanors in Montgomery County, Drain also must pay $300 in fines — and $2,585 to the sheriff’s office as restitution for the insurance deductible for the deputy’s vehicle that he took and for a pair of handcuffs that he destroyed, Turk said.
The sheriff’s office vehicle that Drain used in his escape was basically totaled after Drain drove it into a creek, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen said, calling Drain’s escape attempt, which lasted about three days and stretched from Christiansburg to Rural Retreat, a crime spree like no other case he’d worked.
Drain’s arrest on Jan. 2 came after he ran — on foot this time — from pursuing officers in Barren Springs and leaped into a chilly Reed Creek near where it flows into the New River. After a few minutes of trying to swim in the cold, fast water, Drain returned to the creek’s bank and was arrested.
A picture of Drain’s capture, showing him wet and bedraggled and wearing a hoodie printed with a marijuana leaf and the words “Don’t Panic It’s Organic,” spread widely online.
Questioned by the judge Monday before his sentence was imposed, Drain said he has other sentences totaling three years and nine months of incarceration for convictions in Wythe and Pulaski counties that are connected to his escape.
Turk said the four-year active sentence from Montgomery County would run consecutive to the other’s counties’ sentences.
In Montgomery County, Drain was convicted of escape, assaulting an officer, two counts of eluding, possessing a Schedule II drug with the intent to distribute it, possessing marijuana, possessing burglary tools, receiving a stolen Nissan Sentra, resisting arrest, driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license, two counts of felony breaking and entering, two misdemeanor counts of destroying property, three felony counts of larceny, and one misdemeanor count of larceny.
In testimony before he was sentenced, Drain said that he had been high when he stole the deputy’s vehicle on Dec. 30, and that later in his escape, he was not trying to hurt a Christiansburg police officer when he drove away as the officer tried to pull him out of the driver’s seat.
Drain said that the 11 months that he has been jailed since his arrest has been the longest period of sobriety of his adult life, and said that while jailed, he hopes to get into treatment for what he called a bad drug problem.
Drain said he also was diagnosed as bipolar and that before the incidents that led to his arrest, he had stopped taking medication for the condition.
Defense attorney Bruce Phillips of Christiansburg said Monday that before December, Drain’s criminal record was mostly misdemeanor offenses. However, it also included a charge of possessing methamphetamine with the intent to distribute it, an offense that landed him in Pulaski County’s drug court last year.
If Drain had kept to the drug court program, he could have avoided a conviction on the meth charge, as well as received treatment, Jensen said. Instead, Drain “failed pretty spectacularly,” the prosecutor said.
Phillips agreed, saying Drain “performed a lifetime’s worth of crimes” in the incidents connected to the escape.
On Dec. 30, a Montgomery County deputy spotted a car reported stolen in Pulaski County, according to Jensen’s summary of the case at an earlier hearing.
Drain was at the wheel, Jensen said. After a high-speed chase on Interstate 81 and U.S. 460, Drain was arrested. He told officers he was high and was taken to the hospital for a blood test. Then he was taken to the magistrates’ office in Christiansburg for routine arrest processing.
On the witness stand Monday, Drain said that when he was left in a deputy’s vehicle outside the magistrate’s office — standard procedure when a magistrate is not immediately available —he slipped his handcuffs from behind his back to in front of him. Asked how he was able to do so, Drain said, “I was strung out and I was about 112 pounds.”
Drain said he discovered the deputy had not locked a sliding panel between the rear and front seats, and squeezed through it. The keys were still in the vehicle. Drain said he drove away from the magistrates’ office.
According to Jensen’s earlier account, Christiansburg Officer T. Lusk, who also was in the magistrates’ office parking lot, immediately chased Drain down Franklin Street at more than 90 mph and onto Elliott Creek Road. When Drain stopped, Lusk left his car and ran up to open the driver’s door of the sheriff’s office vehicle. Lusk grabbed Drain, but Drain hit the gas and drove off again, dragging the officer for several feet before he rolled clear.
Drain then drove into the creek, stopped, and got out and waded the rest of the way across and disappeared into the nighttime woods, Jensen said.
The rest of the escape included theft of clothes, food and a gun from buildings that Drain came across. He also took another vehicle, which later was found abandoned in Rural Retreat.
As for the pistol that he stole, Drain said Monday that he had realized it was not a good idea to have it and left it in the woods. After being captured, Drain told officers where to find the gun and it was located there, Drain and Jensen agreed.
Drain had faced a possible maximum sentence of just over 196 years behind bars for the Montgomery County offenses. Jensen asked Turk to impose 60 years, to be suspended after Drain served 20.
Phillips asked for a lower sentence and that Drain be allowed to seek treatment for addiction. “He’s been on drugs his whole life,” Phillips said.
Drain said that after his release, he wants to build a family life with his parents and his three children.