The Norman Transcript

Headlines

February 3, 2013

Mistakenly freed killer captured while watching TV

CHICAGO — Two days after a stunning series of errors allowed a convicted murderer to walk out of a Chicago jail where he did not need to be in the first place, police recaptured the man at a northern Illinois home where he was found watching TV.

Steven L. Robbins, 44, put up no resistance Friday night as police burst through the door of a townhome in Kankakee, about 60 miles south of Chicago, said Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Frank Bilecki.

“He was in the living room or kitchen area watching TV, taken by total surprise,” Bilecki said, adding that it appears the homeowner might know an acquaintance of Robbins.

The mistaken release of the prisoner, who was serving a 60-year sentence in Indiana for murder, focused attention on an antiquated corner of the criminal justice system that still relies extensively on paper documents instead of computers in moving detainees around and keeping tabs on their court status.

The episode prompted promises of change, but also some finger-pointing about who was ultimately to blame for a mistake with precedent in the Cook County system.

“We’re not ducking the fact we dropped the ball. We made mistakes,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Friday. “The public deserves much more. We’re going to find out what went wrong here.”

In Robbins’ case, his transfer to Illinois to begin with was the result of a mistake, officials said.

He was brought before a Cook County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday and Wednesday over drug and armed violence charges in a case that it turns out had been dismissed in 2007. But because law enforcement authorities were still seeing an active arrest warrant, his transfer was requested and approved, according to Dart’s office.

In a second lapse that Dart took responsibility for, he acknowledged that paperwork was lost that would have made it clear to Illinois officials that Robbins was to be returned to Indiana custody. As a result, he was allowed to walk out of the Cook County Jail’s main gate on Wednesday evening. It took another 24 hours before the public was alerted that he was on the loose.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Oklahoma City Memorial Bombing museum gets tech boost

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A memorial and museum built to remember the worst act of domestic terrorism on American soil is in the midst of a $7 million upgrade so it can better portray how different the world was when Timothy McVeigh blew up the ...

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is Okla. backing off accountability?

    One by one, K-12 education reforms passed in previous years by Oklahoma lawmakers are being targeted for weakening or repeal....

    April 19, 2014

  • Hope Trunk travels to Norman

    The rustle of paper could be heard as students meticulously folded one crane, then another and another Friday afternoon. After reading the inspiring story, “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” Cleveland Elementary School fifth graders ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Congressman Cole reflects on recovery

    Congressman Tom Cole’s home in Moore was not hit by the May 20 tornado but it came pretty close. His wife has made it clear she wants a saferoom, he said. In a visit to the Transcript on Friday afternoon, Cole talked about tornado ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Gaylord to get $35,000 grant for poverty project

    A team from Gaylord College is among the first winners in a national competition to fund innovative news experiments that serve communities, the Online News Association has announced....

    April 19, 2014

  • U.S. puts off pipeline decision

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is putting off its decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely until after the November elections, by extending its review of the controversial project indefinitely....

    April 19, 2014

  • Garage sale to benefit Team Jamie’s Crew set

    A garage sale to benefit Team Jamie’s Crew will start at 9 a.m. today at 1510 Melrose Drive....

    April 19, 2014

  • Sonic plans expansion

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma-based Sonic Corp. plans to open 1,000 new drive-in restaurants nationwide over the next 10 years, expanding the chain by about 30 percent, the company said....

    April 19, 2014

  • Singing Sooners show set

    The University of Oklahoma School of Music presents the Singing Sooners Spring Show at 8 p.m. Friday, April 25 in the Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center. Jim Graves and Stephen Ziegler serve as directors for the group....

    April 19, 2014

  • Study: Half of jailed youths have injury

    NEW YORK — About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City’s jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that’s the latest in a growing body of ...

    April 19, 2014