COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) –The couple accused of killing a Tennessee corrections officer in a brazen escape said Friday they would fight efforts to send them back to face charges, with the husband declaring: “I don’t want to leave without her.”

Jennifer Hyatte’s father also told The Associated Press on Friday that he had warned a corrections officer in his home state of Utah that his daughter and her jailed husband might be up to something, but the information never reached Tennessee.

At the time, it “didn’t appear to raise any red flags,” said Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford. He said the Utah officer planned to contact officials in Tennessee on Tuesday – the day of the shooting.

In hindsight, the department should have acted sooner, he said.

Floyd Forsyth, a former sheriff’s deputy, said he suspected his daughter was planning to help free her husband after she asked him during a phone call if he had any spare handcuff keys. She also said she was putting things in storage and planned to let her ex-husband keep their three children for a while.

“I thought maybe she was going to pass him a key,” Forsyth said. “There was no doubt in my mind that she was going do something. I just didn’t know it would be this.”

Jennifer Hyatte, 31, a licensed nurse with no criminal record, is accused of ambushing two prison guards as they were leading her husband, George Hyatte, from a Kingston, Tenn., courthouse where he had just pleaded guilty to robbery.

Guard Wayne “Cotton” Morgan was fatally shot before the couple sped away. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral Friday.

The Hyattes were arrested Wednesday night at a Columbus motel, some 300 miles away, after a cab driver tipped off authorities that he had driven them there.

In court Friday, George Hyatte, 34, seemed prepared to waive his right to challenge extradition, but when his lawyer leaned in and explained that Jennifer Hyatte had decided to fight extradition, he shook his head and argued briefly with his lawyer.

“I don’t want to leave without her,” said George Hyatte, who had on two sets of handcuffs chained tightly to his waist. “I don’t want to. I don’t want to.”

His wife had been in court a few minutes earlier. Jennifer Hyatte appeared dazed and didn’t talk during the hearing. She showed little emotion until the judge informed her that the charge carries a possible death penalty. She then sighed and leaned back in her chair.

Her lawyer, John Sproat, said later Friday that the extradition challenge is a precaution he advised her to take because of the severity of the charge.

Attorney Robert Essex, representing George Hyatte, did not immediately return phone calls Friday. Another hearing is set for Sept. 8.

Morgan, 56, a decorated Vietnam veteran, was buried with full military honors Friday in Wartburg, Tenn., in a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 people.

He was remembered as a Sunday school teacher and deacon at Meadowview Baptist Church who regularly ministered to patients in the local nursing home and to prisoners in the town jail. He also liked to sing duets with his wife, Viann, and to tend to his flower and vegetable gardens.

“You always wonder why the good people have to be taken,” said his son, Dennis Morgan, 33. “My dad’s time on Earth was served as well as he could want it, and I think he did a good job at it.”


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