US killer mistakenly freed is recaptured



Chicago: A convicted murderer who was mistakenly released after a court appearance in Chicago was back in custody today after authorities tracked him down at a house about 100 kilometres away.

Steven L Robbins, 44, was rearrested late last night without incident in the Illinois town of Kankakee, authorities said.

Although the details of his capture weren't immediately released, officials said they used various leads and interviews with friends and family members at police headquarters to locate him.

The reason Robbins was able to escape in the first place, Illinois officials acknowledged, was because they lost paperwork directing them to return him over the state border to Indiana, where he has been serving a 60-year sentence.

He was escorted by Cook County sheriff's deputies to Chicago this week for a court appearance in a separate case involving drug and armed violence charges a case that had actually been dismissed in 2007.

After appearing before two Cook County Circuit Court judges, Robbins was taken to a jail on Chicago's South Side. He 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 Sheriff Tom Dart yesterday took responsibility for Robbins' release, saying a document showing he should be returned to Indiana disappeared while his deputies were transporting the prisoner, sometime between a Tuesday court appearance and his return to jail after a second court appearance on Wednesday. Robbins was released on Wednesday evening.

Before Robbins was captured, federal and local law enforcement officers knocked on doors in Illinois and Indiana yesterday, including those of his friends and relatives, the sheriff's office said.

The FBI and US Marshals Service offered a USD 10,000 reward for information leading to his apprehension.

PTI