CHICAGO — Authorities in Illinois and Indiana searched Friday for a convicted murderer who was mistakenly released after a Chicago court appearance, as questions swirled about what caused the mix-up and why he was brought from his Indiana prison cell in the first place.
Steven L. Robbins, 44, was serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana and was brought to Chicago this week in a separate case involving drug and armed violence charges — a case that a prosecutor revealed Friday had actually been dismissed in 2007.
After appearing before a Cook County Circuit Court judge, Robbins was taken to the Cook County Jail on Chicago’s South Side and was released hours later, instead of being sent back to Indiana to continue his murder sentence. The public was not alerted that he was on the loose for about 24 hours.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez on Friday said that after a case is dismissed, a judge normally quashes and recalls an arrest warrant. Alvarez didn’t know if that happened when Robbins’ charges were dismissed in 2007, but she said it’s possible a clerical order might have kept law enforcement authorities from seeing any such order.
She said Robbins had written several letters to the court demanding to face 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.
Once in Chicago, Robbins appeared Wednesday before a judge who made it clear on the record that he no longer had any pending case in Illinois and still had time to serve in Indiana, Alvarez said.