Florida convicts sought after release on forged orders
By Barbara Liston
Thu Oct 17, 2013 1:24pm EDT
(Reuters) - Florida authorities searched on Thursday for two convicted
murderers released from prison based on forged court documents that
indicated their life sentences had been reduced, state corrections
The forged signature of a
high-profile judge who presides in the county where the men committed
their crimes was used to dupe prison officials into freeing them, a
court official confirmed.
Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, were released from the Franklin
Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, Florida, on September 27 and
October 8, respectively.
serving life terms - Walker for second-degree murder in 1999 in Orange
County, and Jenkins for first-degree murder in 1998 of a father of six
in Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel said.
were court documents that said they could be released and so, that is
what the department used," said Florida Department of Corrections
spokeswoman Misty Cash.
officials realized this week that the convicts should still be behind
bars because "those documents were fraudulently modified," Cash said.
court spokeswoman in Orange County, Florida, where the men were
convicted, said someone signed Judge Belvin Perry's name on two
official-looking documents granting their release. The faked court
orders granted motions to correct illegal sentences for each inmate and
cited case law in support of the reduced prison terms.
documents were forged," court spokeswoman Karen Levey said. "Judge
Perry did not sign either release order. We don't know how it happened."
gained national recognition when he presided over the 2011 trial of
Casey Anthony, the young mother acquitted in the death of her 2-year-old
A spokeswoman for
the Orange County clerk's office said the paperwork passed through that
department and was forwarded to the state corrections department.
origin of the documents is unclear. The paperwork was not emailed to
the clerk but may have been mailed or dropped off at the office, she
"We don't know where it came from. It passed through here on its way to corrections," clerk spokeswoman Leesa Bainbridge said.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the
circumstances surrounding the inmates' release, the Orange County
Sheriff's Office said.
At least one of the suspects might have returned to Orange County, the sheriff's office said.
main priority right now is public safety and making sure that these two
guys are apprehended and put back where they're supposed to be," Cash
(Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Scott Malone and Gunna Dickson)
Edited by tatee - Oct 17 2013 at 1:10pm