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February 3, 2013

Mistakenly freed killer captured while watching TV

(Continued)

CHICAGO —

But Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, both prominent local Democrats, exchanged tense words Friday about who should accept responsibility for having Robbins brought to Chicago from Indiana.

Alvarez said her office had told Dart’s office that Robbins’ drug and armed violence case was closed. But Dart’s office proceeded to bring him to Chicago, she said, because of confusion over the outcome of the case and because Robbins demanded to stand trial.

“The Cook County Sherriff’s Police, despite the fact that the assistant state’s attorney told them that 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 told reporters.

But Dart said his office sought — and was granted — permission from the state attorney’s office to bring Robbins to Chicago. The sheriff showed The Associated Press a copy of the extradition request from September signed by one of Alvarez’s prosecutors.

Robbins, a Gary, Ind., native, was serving a sentence for murder and weapons convictions out of Marion County in Indiana.

Witnesses to the 2002 killing told police Robbins was arguing with his wife outside a birthday party in Indianapolis when a man intervened, telling Robbins he should not hit a woman, according to court documents.

Witnesses said Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and shot the man in the chest before fleeing. He started serving his sentence in October 2004.

He was expected to be transferred back to the state prison in Michigan City, Ind., on Saturday.

“We are grateful that law enforcement caught him before he committed another crime,” Indiana Department of Corrections spokesman Doug Garrison said.

It is not the first time a prisoner has been mistakenly freed from the Cook County Jail. In 2009, Jonathan Cooper, who was serving a 30-year manslaughter sentence in Mississippi, was brought to Chicago to face charges that he failed to register as a sex offender.

Prosecutors dropped the charges because, as an inmate, he could not comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act. A clerk reportedly failed to include the Mississippi sentence information in Cooper’s file, and jail staff released him.

Cooper turned himself in several days later.

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