Murder suspect released from custody in Ohio because of ‘clerical error’

News & Politics

A man accused of gunning down a husband and father in cold blood last year was accidentally released from custody after a “clerical error” at an Ohio court incorrectly indicated that his case had been dismissed.

Last fall, Derek Driskill, a 39-year-old husband and father of three, was driving his new Mercedes-Benz in a parking lot on the eastside of Cleveland when he was rear-ended by another vehicle. Driskill and the driver of the other vehicle were reportedly handling the situation peacefully when Amarion Sanders, who was apparently sitting in the passenger seat of the other vehicle, allegedly hopped out and shot Driskill in the head before fleeing the scene.

‘You would think there’s more than one person that something like that goes through.’

Driskill passed away from his injuries two days later, his wife, Andrea Johnson, claimed. “Obviously I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to believe it,” she said. “… I thought he would be OK, but he died.”

Sanders later turned himself in. He was charged with aggravated murder, two counts of murder, and two counts of felonious assault and assessed a bail of $1 million, which he did not pay. Thus, he remained in custody at the Cuyahoga County Jail while his case processed through the system.

Until this week.

On Monday, the cases of Sanders, now 22, and Antonio Seymore, a 35-year-old defendant charged with assault and theft, were both assigned to the same Cuyahoga County judge. Their case numbers were also remarkably similar, just one digit apart. Sanders’ case was 685908, while Seymore’s was 685909.

According to reports, someone at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas accidentally mixed up their case numbers on the docket. Thus, when prosecutors motioned to dismiss the case against Seymore after witnesses against him failed to appear, Sanders was actually the one released from custody.

Law enforcement agencies were then instructed to find and rearrest Sanders and bring him back to jail. A team of U.S. Marshals made contact with Sanders’ family on Tuesday night and attempted to negotiate a peaceful surrender, but Sanders allegedly did not cooperate.

The Marshals then arrested him around 9:30 on Wednesday morning and returned him to custody. He has a hearing in connection with Driskill’s murder scheduled for August 19.

In the meantime, Driskill’s family is still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster of the past few days. “I don’t think it’s fair. I mean, that’s not justice, it’s not our family feeling safe. I mean, he’s out on the street and can do it to somebody else,” said Johnson, Driskill’s widow.

“I honestly do not understand how that happens. I understand humans make mistakes, but you would think there’s more than one person that something like that goes through.”

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the case against Sanders was “accidentally dismissed” because of “a clerical error made by the court.” “There was no motion to dismiss filed by our office,” the statement reiterated.

The Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas likewise issued a statement, expressing “regret” for “the error.” “The Court will review our procedures and work with the Sheriff’s Department to determine how best to ensure that a similar incident does not happen in the future,” the court statement added. “We are grateful for the assistance of law enforcement in providing the safe return of Mr. Sanders.”

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