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Runaway recaptured

WORTHINGTON -- More than three months after absconding during the middle of his own jury trial, Marlon James Sands is back in town, courtesy of the Nobles County Sheriff 's Office.

Sands was picked up in Yellow Medicine County and dropped off at the Nobles County Jail Monday.

Sands, 24, was on trial in August for first-degree burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and fleeing a peace officer.

What should have been a relatively simple trial became complicated when Sands, accused of entering an occupied dwelling and stealing two cell phones, waited until day two of his trial, after the state had already presented six of its eight witnesses, to try to fire his attorney, Louis Kuchera.

Judge Timothy Connell told Sands his only option if he fired his attorney was to represent himself.

"I'm not going to allow you to get a new attorney and resume the trial at a later date," Connell stated.

Apparently not willing to go to bat for himself, Sands opted to let Kuchera finish the job, but didn't hang around to watch. When the judge, jury and attorneys returned to the courtroom, they noticed something was missing -- Sands.

"The defendant has chosen to be absent for the rest of the proceedings," Connell told the jury.

After closing statements the jury was sent in to deliberate. While they decided Sands' fate, a warrant was being issued for his arrest. Less than two hours later, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty on all four counts, never knowing the subject of their discussion was on the run.

Now that Sands is back on his home turf, the case he was convicted on after he hit the road will be set for sentencing after a pre-sentence investigation is completed. The other two cases for which he had outstanding warrants will also be set for trial on the court calendar.