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Kidney transplant fugitive caught in Mexico

Story Highlights

• Kentucky man arrested in Mexico, arrives in U.S. after over a year on the run
• Byron Perkins was released from jail to donate a kidney to his son
• He never showed up for the final day of hospital testing
• Perkins was awaiting possible life sentence for drug, weapon and other charges
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(CNN) -- A Kentucky man who had been on the lam for more than a year after he was released from jail to donate a kidney to his son was captured in Mexico on Wednesday, a deputy U.S. Marshal said.

Byron Perkins and his girlfriend, Lee Ann Howard, were captured in Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's Pacific coast, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Dawn Izgarjan.

The pair arrived Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where they face an initial court appearance Thursday.

Perkins was released from jail without bond by a federal judge in January 2006 so he could complete testing before donating a kidney to his teenage son, Destin. At the time, he was awaiting a possible life sentence following a conviction on drug, weapon and other charges.

Perkins was not wearing a tracking ankle bracelet because doctors told the court it would have interfered with medical tests.

Doctors said Perkins appeared to be a perfect match for his son. But on the final day of hospital tests, he failed to show up. Perkins left behind a letter promising he would "come through" for his son, who needed dialysis. U.S. Marshals put him on their "Most Wanted" list.

"I don't know how he could lay his head down at night, just knowing that he ran away and left me up here to die like that," Destin Perkins told CNN's Anderson Cooper after receiving news of his father's capture. "That's just one of my main questions, is why he did it and how he could do it."

Now 17, Destin Perkins received a kidney last August from an anonymous cadaver donor in California. "As of today, I'm doing fine, just fine," he said. "The kidney's working great."

Destin Perkins' mother, Angela Hammond, told CNN, "it's about time." She said she hopes Perkins can "sit and realize how he hurt his children."

Deputy U.S. Marshal Joe Chabarria, who accompanied Perkins and Howard on their flight to Los Angeles, told reporters the pair had come from the state of Colima and were "making their way back up" when they arrived in Puerto Vallarta. They were recognized while walking in the downtown area, he said.

"They knew they were being sought after," Chabarria said. He said the two "looked like they were tired. They were ready to come back."

Izgarjan, who is based in Louisville, Kentucky, told CNN the two had been working odd jobs in Mexico, never staying in one place too long. Before Puerto Vallarta, she said, they were in a town near Manzanillo.

"There's a lot of anger between me and him right now," Destin Perkins said. "I would like to see him and tell him what I think and just ask one question: Why he did it? It's kind of sad that he would run out on me like that."

At the time, he said, he was angry and depressed. "It really wasn't healthy on me at the time. I was 16 years old, and I had to worry about this."

His father's actions have hurt his entire family, he said, adding that his grandfather -- Byron Perkins' father -- has since died of cancer.

Asked if the pair should be in jail, he said, "That's where both of them deserve to be. As far as I'm concerned, the rest of their life, they both deserve to be behind bars."

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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Kentucky convict Byron Perkins fled after convincing a judge he would donate a kidney to his son.



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