CHICAGO (CBS) – Authorities have captured a convicted murderer from Indiana who was mistakenly released from the Cook County Jail earlier this week.
Sheriff Tom Dart’s office announced late Friday night that Steven L. Robbins, 44, was arrested in Kankakee, and was was returned to the custody of the Indiana Corrections Saturday afternoon where he is serving a 60 year sentence.
“Various leads were recorded and investigated while at the same time family, friends and acquaintances were interviewed at the Sheriff’s Police Headquarters,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “With information that was obtained through these efforts, investigators were able to establish Robbins’ whereabouts and coordinate his capture.”
Robbins was set free from the jail Wednesday night, after he’d been brought to Cook County from Indiana to appear in court at the Markham Courthouse on armed violence and cocaine possession charges, even though he was still serving a 60-year sentence for a murder conviction in Indiana, and was not scheduled for release until 2029 at the earliest.
The mistaken release led to some finger-pointing between Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Alvarez had said the Illinois charges against Robbins were dropped in 2007, and there was no need for him to be brought to court in Cook County.
She blamed sheriff’s police personnel for letting Robbins go.
“Despite the fact that the Cook County assistant state’s attorney told them they didn’t have to bring him back, they thought it would be better if they did bring him back to get this all cleared up because the guy keeps writing letters demanding trial,” Alvarez said. “The case was brought, the judge made it clear on the record that that he had no pending case any more in Illinois, in Cook County, and he still had to serve his Indiana time.”
Cook County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Frank Bilecki said his office had no knowledge of the letters, and that the state’s attorney’s office signed off on the extradition request.
A three-page form obtained by WBBM Newsradio and CBS 2 bears the signatures of the chief of the state’s attorney’s criminal division, a second prosecutor and presiding Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel.
Bilecki said the warrant for Robbins’ arrest remained in the sheriff’s system — and should have been quashed by the courts when the charges were dismissed in 2007.
Bilecki said the paperwork on Robbins apparently contained no “hold” order so he could be returned to the Indiana State Prison, in Michigan City. Seeing no hold, sheriff’s personnel released him, he said.
The extradition forms were clearly marked “subject serving sentence while in state custody or federal custody.”
Dart agreed someone in his office made the mistake of letting Robbins go. His office was investigating what Dart termed a bureaucratic error.
Dart thanked the F.B.I., U.S. Marshals Service, Illinois State Police and local law enforcement agencies for their help in locating Robbins.