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Hunt for murderer mistakenly freed in Chicago

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm •  Published: February 1, 2013
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Dart also said that because of an antiquated computer system, his office thought an arrest warrant for Robbins in the case was still active, which is why it asked the state attorney's office for permission to extradite Robbins.

"It's our fault but we move 100,000 people a day and it's all done with paper," Dart said.

Federal and local law enforcement officers searching for Robbins were knocking on doors in Illinois and Indiana on Friday, including those of his friends and relatives, the sheriff's office said. The FBI and U.S. Marshals Service offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his apprehension.

In a late afternoon interview, Dart said there had been sightings of the fugitive and that authorities had been close to catching him.

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. The witnesses said Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and shot the man, Rutland Melton, in the chest before fleeing.

He started serving his sentence in October 2004 and his earliest projected release date was more than 16 years from now, on June 29, 2029.

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.

In a more recent embarrassment for law enforcement officials in Chicago, two convicted bank robbers escaped from a high-rise federal lockup in December by climbing down the side of the building on a rope made of bed sheets and jumping into a cab. Authorities recaptured both men, one of whom remained on the run for about two weeks. Officials have yet to provide a public explanation of the jailbreak.

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Associated Press writers Don Babwin in Chicago and Pamela Engel in Indianapolis contributed to this report.