Jacob John Lucey was a fugitive from Nov. 1 when he failed to return to the Yakima County Jail from a 24-hour furlough. Police didn't learn of his release until Tuesday, when they linked him to an armed carjacking over the weekend.
Lucey was recaptured Friday at a Yakima residence.
Capt. Rod Light told the Yakima Herald-Republic the dying mother story was a ruse.
"It's incredibly disturbing. It doesn't appear that anybody did anything to confirm anything. Even if she was terminal and on her deathbed, (Lucey) could have been furloughed to visit, but it should have been leg irons and belly chains with a guard," he said.
The mother, Linda Cook, is not bedridden, Light said.
"She's walking, talking. She's fine," he said.
Cook told the paper she's dying from degenerative arthritis and terminal cancer.
Lucey was at her home for most of the past two weeks and has an alibi for the night of the carjacking, Cook said.
She fears for her son and pleaded with him to turn himself in, she said.
"I'm not saying he's a saint, but he's not as bad as they're making him out to be, either," Cook said.
The U.S. Marshals Service and other federal agents are helping look for Lucey.
Police say Lucey, 29, is dangerous and never should have been released. He spent eight years in prison for a 2002 shooting in Union Gap and had violated parole when he went on a spree of vehicle thefts over the summer.
Yakima County Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson granted Lucey's furlough request during an Oct. 30 hearing where Lucey pleaded guilty to several car theft charges in exchange for a sentencing recommendation of 43 to 57 months.
Lucey's lawyer, Tim Hall, asked for the furlough, saying Lucey's mother was "in the process of dying" and not expected to survive her son's prison sentence.
Deputy Prosecutor Susie Silverthorn did not agree to the furlough.
No medical evidence or testimony was submitted with the request. Instead, the judge warned the defendant he could face additional charges if he failed to return.
"It also might affect what a judge does at your sentencing. Do you understand that?" Gibson said.
"Yes, sir," Lucey replied.
County Prosecutor Jim Hagarty said that in his experience, prisoners usually honor the terms of their furloughs and return voluntarily on time.
The Lucey case points to the need for a pre-trial unit that can scrutinize requests for bail and release pending trial, he said.