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Press Release

Federal Prisoner Charged with Escape Returned to Middle District of Georgia

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

MACON, Ga. –  A recently convicted felon facing a federal charge alleging his participation in a Bibb County, Georgia, jailbreak on Oct. 16 had his initial appearance today at the U.S. Courthouse in Macon.

Johnifer Dernard Barnwell aka “Whoop” aka “Malixe,” 37, of Macon, had his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Weigle for the Middle District of Georgia; Barnwell had a prior initial appearance in the Southern District of Georgia on Nov. 13 after he was taken into custody in Augusta, Georgia, on Nov 12. Today, Barnwell was ordered to continue to be held in federal custody without bond. Barnwell’s arraignment is expected to occur later this week.

Barnwell is charged by indictment with one count of escape from custody. Co-defendant Janecia Green, 30, of Macon, is charged by indictment with one count of aiding and abetting Barnwell’s escape from custody and one count of assisting escape of a person committed to custody. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

According to the indictment, Barnwell was being held in the Bibb County Jail on behalf of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) after he was convicted by a federal jury on Oct. 2 of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin; and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and cocaine base for which Barnwell faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $10,000,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been scheduled by the Court. In the indictment, Barnwell is alleged to have escaped the custody of the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of Green.

Green had her initial appearance in Macon on Nov. 15 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Weigle of the U.S. Court for the Middle District of Georgia. On Nov. 21, Green had a detention hearing where she was ordered to remain in federal custody pending trial.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joy Odom is prosecuting the case. Deputy Criminal Chief Will Keyes represented the Government at today’s initial appearance.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated November 28, 2023