DETROIT -

The woman whose vehicle was stolen by escaped prisoner Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White, held back tears as she recounted the event.

"I was getting ready to get out of my car to go over to Wayne County to take care of some tax business and I looked up and this guy was standing there," said Patricia Banford. "He snatched the door open and said, 'Get out or I'll kill you!'"

Banford told Local 4, "I got out of the car but I still had the keys in my hand so he said, ‘Ma’am give me the keys or I will kill you.’ I gave them to him and he took off."

She described White as looking "scary."

"He meant business. He had his hand in his pocket like he had a weapon. He looked crazy. He had dreads."

Banford, a mother of three, is counting her blessings.

"If it weren’t for almighty God I’d be dead."

Where the story began

Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White, was allegedly armed with a knife when he showed up to the Frank Murphy Building Monday morning. Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon told Local 4 that White's weapon may have been plastic -- possibly a comb -- and was not picked up by a metal detector. 

He overpowered a deputy as he was shackled in the courtroom. He stole the deputy's keys and took his uniform. The deputy, Harrison Tolliver, suffered minor cuts and bruises and had several puncture wounds to his neck. He was treated and released from Detroit Receiving Hospital. He is in good condition.

As soon as White escaped the courthouse he stole Banford's van. It was later recovered at Concord and Lafayette - which is near the entrance of Belle Isle.

About the escaped prisoner

White was supposed to be sentenced on armed robbery and carjacking charges. White spent more than five years in prison for assault during an armed robbery and breaking and entering before being paroled in January 2012, officials said. He was locked up later that winter for a month for failing to report to his parole officer, and absconded again when he was released. In September 2012 he was arrested on carjacking, armed robbery and weapons charges and convicted in a non-jury trial, prison officials said. He was due to be sentenced for those crimes when he escaped. He will now be facing multiple other charges. Those are yet to be announced.

His lawyer, James Howarth, told NBC news he believes White has mental issues and wanted to mount an insanity defense, but two psychiatrists found him competent.

"In my initial conversation with him, he had no knowledge of the incident and talked about hallucinations," Howarth told NBC News. "He appeared not to be in any touch with reality whatsoever."

Howarth said White was offered a plea deal that would have given him the minimum sentence of nine years but turned it down. After being convicted, he was likely facing 15 years.

Abraham Pearson alias Derreck White 2

-- Abraham Pearson, alias Derreck White. c

Abraham Pearson alias Derreck White 3

---This photo shows White with long hair.