CHICAGO — Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on Friday said "we let people down" when his workers accidentally let a convicted murderer walk out of the Cook County Jail because of a clerical error.
The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Steven Robbins, 44, who could be armed and dangerous.
Robbins had been brought to Cook County from an Indiana prison on an armed violence warrant. He was serving 60 years for murder. But after a hearing at the Markham Courthouse on Wednesday, he was returned to the Cook County Jail and released instead of being returned to prison in Indiana.
Dart, in interviews Friday, told reporters a clerical error was to blame for Robbins' release.
"No way we're ducking it," the sheriff told ABC7 Chicago. "We let people down and we're going to fix this."
Dart's frank talk came after Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said Robbins never should have been brought to Cook County in the first place.
Alvarez said local charges against Robbins had been dropped by her office but that he was brought back from Indiana at the request of the sheriff's office.
Arrested in 1992 in Illinois on narcotics and armed violence charges, Robbins had failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued. He was subsequently arrested and convicted on murder charges in Indiana and sentenced in 2004.
Alvarez said her office dismissed the local charges in 2007 but Robbins continued to write letters asking for a trial in the case.
"The defendant kept writing letters to Cook County court asking to be brought back to Cook County on [the 1992 case], demanding trial on this case," Alvarez said during a press conference on an unrelated topic.
She said the sheriff's office wanted Robbins brought before a Cook County judge "to get this all cleared up because the guy keeps writing letters."
"Several days prior to him being brought back, one of our assistant state's attorneys told the Cook County sheriff's police that there was no reason to bring him back because the case had been dismissed back in 2007," she said. "There were no more charges that needed to be heard in a Cook County court."
Alvarez said she didn't know what error resulted in Robbins' release after he appeared in court in Markham on Wednesday, and referred questions to Dart's office.
"Now what happened after that, you'll have to ask the sheriffs' office," she said.