Man Mistakenly Let Out of Jail Burned Girlfriend While Free: Officials
CHICAGO — Steven Derkits should have been in jail when he allegedly got drunk last weekend and beat his girlfriend, leaving cigarette burns on her face and neck, prosecutors said.
The 30-year-old Brighton Park man mistakenly released from the Cook County Jail where he was being held for various charges, including domestic battery, appeared in court Thursday, two days after authorities realized he was missing and tracked him down.
Wearing a hospital shirt tied loosely at the back of his neck, Derkits limped before a judge to face new charges of violating an order of protection, violating bail bond, aggravated battery and aggravated domestic battery.
On Saturday, he violated the protective order by calling his girlfriend and later going to her home, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said.
There, he became intoxicated. Convinced that the girlfriend was cheating, Derkits allegedly beat her, singed her face and neck with a cigarette and choked her into unconsciousness while "indicating he was going to kill her," Antonietti said.
Out of fear, the woman did not call police until three days later when Derkits attacked her again, Antonietti said.
Derkits last appeared in court on July 30, when a judge dropped five out of six charges against him: domestic battery, two counts of resisting arrest, violating an order of protection and simple assault, Cook County Sheriff's spokesman Ben Breit said.
The one charge that stuck was aggravated battery of a peace officer, but employees with the sheriff's office overlooked that remaining charge and mistakenly released him from the Cook County Jail, Breit said.
The office realized the error on Tuesday when Derkits was scheduled to appear in court for the remaining charge.
The same day police got a call from the girlfriend after he attacked her again, this time at a bar, Antonietti said.
When they found Derkits hiding in the girlfriend's bathroom, police allegedly had to pepper spray him and taser him to bring him in. He was taken to the hospital after the arrest.
"I am not so sure that he should be held completely responsible," Derkits' public defender said. "Who knows why some [defendants] are released and some are not released."
But Cook County Judge Laura Sullivan ordered Derkits held without bail.
Derkits is not the first inmate to be erroneously released by the sheriff's office this year.
In January, convicted murderer Steven Robbins, 44, was accidentally let go after appearing in a Markham court. Robbins, who had been serving a 60-year prison sentence in Indiana for the murder, was later apprehended after the office received some 100 tips during the search.
A statement from the sheriff's office placed some blame for the incidents on the "antiquated system" of record keeping that Cook County uses.
"Working with more than 1,000 paper files each day invites mistakes that can have serious consequences for public safety," the statement read. "There is no excuse for this antiquated system to continue in an electronic age."
Derkits is in custody in Maywood but will soon be transferred back to the Cook County Jail, the sheriff's office said. Breit said he'll likely face additional charges, though none have been formally announced yet.
"The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of disciplining those responsible for Derkits’ release," the office's statement reads.