The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

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
  • movieposter Movie about Moore tornado survivors premieres May 16

    MOORE — Exploring ideas of faith and hope, an Oklahoma faith-based documentary on the May 20, 2013, EF-5 Moore tornado is scheduled to premiere at the Moore Warren Theatre May 16....

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Survivors observe 19th anniversary

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Survivors, rescue workers and the family members of victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have observed the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attack....

    April 20, 2014

  • Police arrest man connected to homicide

    Norman Police have arrested Abid Sandhu, 37 years old, of Norman, on a complaint of Murder in the First Degree. Formal charges have yet to be filed. At approximately 3:35 a.m. Saturday, the Norman Police Communications Center received a ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Cody’s Run raises $14,000

    Cody Ponder’s positive attitude was infectious even while he struggled with esophageal cancer. He always worked to help others and his giving spirit inspired a 5k race to benefit struggling patients. Last year Cody’s family organized a run ...

    April 20, 2014

  • State budget talks center on cuts

    OKLAHOMA CITY — With six weeks left in the 2014 session, behind-the-scenes negotiations among the House, Senate and governor’s office are ramping up on how to plug a $188 million hole in the budget and fund programs for education, public ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Dental groups oppose measure

    TULSA — Some Oklahoma dental groups are opposing a bill in the state Legislature, proposed as a reaction to the case of an oral surgeon accused of maintaining filthy office conditions, that deals with training requirements for oral surgery ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Former mayor files for county office

    Local physician and former Norman Mayor Harold Haralson recently filed his candidacy for the Cleveland County Commission District 3 seat....

    April 20, 2014

  • Selling Norman is love at first sight

    Meeting planners who make a site visit to Norman tend to fall in love, convention and hospitality experts said this week. The staff of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau are commissioned with the job of promoting tourism and selling ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Green House is a homegrown business

    Nancy Muenzler was a banker in her previous life. That was before the Green House, 1708 SW 24th Street, became her passion....

    April 20, 2014

  • Conan’s martial arts moves downtown

    Conan’s Kickboxing, Karate, Boxing, Jujitsu, MMA Academy is celebrating the grand opening of a new facility right in the heart of downtown Norman at 310 E. Main St. Founded in 1996 by four-time World Kickboxing Champion Scott “Conan” ...

    April 20, 2014