SEVERE WX : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Murder suspect mistakenly released from Florida jail

In Florida, 28-year-old Eric Alexander Vail Jr., who is facing a first-degree murder charge, was inadvertently allowed to walk free after a lesser homicide count was dismissed, leaving Broward County authorities scrambling to not only find him but also determine who should take the blame.

Posted: Jun 5, 2019 6:40 AM
Updated: Jun 5, 2019 6:40 AM

A 28-year-old Florida man facing a first-degree murder charge was inadvertently allowed to walk free after a lesser homicide count was dismissed, leaving Broward County authorities scrambling to not only find him but also determine who should take the blame.

Eric Alexander Vail Jr. initally had been locked up on a charge of second-degree murder, which was filed on January 29, according to the Broward County Clerk of Courts.

Police accused him of using a AK-47 in the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Wadarius Harris in October, CNN affiliate WFOR-TV reported.

On Tuesday -- as jail and court officials along with prosecutors sought to assign blame -- the sheriff's office said it was still trying to locate the defendant. "Our focus remains on apprehending this dangerous criminal."

A grand jury indicted Vail on a first-degree murder charge on April 3 and he was ordered held without bond, according to a statement from the clerk's office. The defendant pleaded not guilty at arraignment on April 9, with a calender call hearing set for last Thursday.

The confusion apparently began when prosecutors moved to dismiss the lesser charge that day so that they could proceed with a first-degree murder case.

But when that charge was dismissed, there was no documentation showing that Vail should be kept in jail, the sheriff's office claims.

The "jail had not received any documentation from the Clerk of Courts stating the subject was to remain in custody to face another charge," sheriff's spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said in a statement.

Prosecutors disagree.

The state attorney maintains that public records show the actions it took "to ensure that both the Broward Sheriff's Office and the Broward Clerk of Courts were independently notified that Eric Vail still had a pending first-degree murder charge," the office said in a statement.

"It is the responsibility of the Broward Clerk of Courts office to notify the Broward Sheriff's Office of new court filings, but our prosecutors and staff also sent notifications to both the clerk of courts and the sheriff's office that the first-degree murder charge -- with a no-bond hold -- was still pending against Vail," the prosecutors' statement said.

The state attorney's statement included as "proof" copies of the first-degree murder indictment filed with the clerk, a notification to the clerk that the defendant was jailed on no bond and an electronic file and receipt from the sheriff's office notifying them of the more serious charge.

The Broward Clerk of Courts is ultimately responsible for distributing official documentation "between all the essential parties about court proceedings," including communications involving inmates in custody, Concepcion with the sheriff's office said.

In its own statement, the Clerk of Courts said the office "properly distributed documentation" to the required parties. The clerk said a "directive from the judiciary" is required for any release and the case docket shows no such directive was filed. It also said electronic notifications showing the first-degree murder case number were transmitted to the sheriff's office confinement status unit before the hearings on Thursday and on April 9.

Vail's grandmother, Judy McGowan, told CNN affiliate WSVN-TV that she went to a graduation with Vail and his niece on Friday after they had breakfast. She hasn't seen him since.

"He is innocent until proven guilty," she said.

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
94° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 98°
Florence
Clear
97° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 100°
Fayetteville
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 92°
Decatur
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 96°
Scottsboro
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 78°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 120585

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby22916301
Davidson20383213
Rutherford646354
Hamilton606253
Knox451338
Williamson347825
Sumner340473
Unassigned312810
Out of TN286014
Wilson226223
Bradley190312
Montgomery190213
Sevier18507
Putnam174018
Trousdale15826
Robertson153519
Hamblen138314
Blount127711
Maury12257
Washington12252
Tipton11959
Madison106417
Sullivan96214
Bedford91811
Hardeman89817
Macon85813
Lake7820
Loudon7253
Bledsoe6951
Gibson6935
Fayette6868
Dickson6792
Anderson6766
Dyer6287
Cheatham5787
Henderson5632
Jefferson5593
Lawrence5506
Obion5464
McMinn53120
Rhea5282
Coffee5223
Carter5126
Warren5074
Lauderdale4898
Greene4678
Haywood4636
Hardin4628
Roane4612
Cocke4572
Hawkins4517
Cumberland4506
Smith4454
Weakley4214
Monroe4189
Giles37813
McNairy3715
DeKalb3492
Franklin3254
Carroll2963
Marshall2903
White2815
Lincoln2801
Henry2760
Claiborne2660
Crockett2664
Johnson2650
Hickman2590
Campbell2471
Wayne2252
Marion2224
Chester2172
Polk2043
Decatur1983
Grainger1960
Overton1801
Unicoi1610
Union1540
Benton1481
Cannon1430
Jackson1241
Humphreys1203
Morgan1181
Scott1180
Grundy1132
Sequatchie1050
Meigs1040
Fentress920
Perry790
Hancock782
Clay750
Stewart740
Lewis731
Moore610
Houston570
Van Buren360
Pickett311

Community Events