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Inmate mistakenly released from jail, authorities didn't notice for weeks

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times
by Stefano Esposito

Some criminals are dumb, some are lucky.

Then there’s the case of Steven Derkits.

The 30-year-old South Side man escaped the long arm of the law — when he was mistakenly released from the Cook County jail July 30 — only to be arrested Tuesday at the home of his girlfriend, who had a valid order of protection against him. 

Derkits was originally arrested July 9 in the city, stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, said Cook County sheriff’s spokesman Ben Breit.

Derkits’ luck began July 30, when prosecutors dropped five of six charges in the domestic violence case. He was released from jail the same day — something that went undetected by authorities until this week.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office was checking Wednesday to figure out why all but one of the charges were dropped. But it appears a Cook County sheriff’s employee or employees at the time mistakenly believed all charges had been dropped and released Derkits from jail the same day.

“Obviously a serious mistake was made,” Breit said.

Then in the early morning hours on Tuesday, Derkits allegedly punched his girlfriend repeatedly in the face outside a bar in the 4600 block of South Sacramento, Breit said, citing a Chicago Police report. Derkits fled before police arrived, Breit said.

A Cook County assistant state’s attorney approved charges against Derkits, including aggravated battery, domestic battery and a violation of an order of protection.

Later Tuesday morning, the sheriff’s office finally realized they had released Derkits by mistake when he was a no-show in court, and prosecutors wanted to know where he’d gone.

“That’s when everyone realized a mistake had been made, at which point our central intelligence unit and our central warrant unit worked together to apprehend him,” Breit said.

It took sheriff’s police about three hours to scoop up Derkits — at his girlfriend’s house. He didn’t go willingly. Investigators used a stun gun to subdue Derkits, Breit said.

This is the second time this year a detainee was mistakenly released. In January, a man convicted of murder had been mistakenly released from the jail, but was was apprehended days later in Kankakee, officials said. Sheriff Tom Dart at the time said he believed a paperwork problem was to blame.

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