Typo lets convicted batterer out of prison early

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: kmoore@wwltv.com | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS -- An Orleans Parish man who admitted to beating his ex-girlfriend so badly that she had to have her spleen removed was mistakenly released from jail because of a typo in the court record.

It's the second time in a week that an inmate has been released from Orleans Parish Prison in error.

30-year-old Isiah Spencer was released from Orleans Parish Prison last Friday, less than a week after pleading guilty to 2nd Degree battery and false imprisonment.

Court records show the minute clerk for Section K of Orleans Parish Criminal Court entered Spencer’s sentence as three months at Orleans Parish Prison, instead of the 33 months indicated in his guilty plea.

Judge Arthur Hunter’s signature is also included on the paperwork, but he did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

“This would be enough to scare anybody,” said Mary Claire Landry, executive director of the Family Justice Center, the agency tasked with coordinating victim services for those dealing with domestic violence in New Orleans.

Spencer was arrested on an aggravated battery charge in August 2013, but was later indicted for second-degree battery and false imprisonment. The arrest warrant says the victim told Spencer she didn't want to have sex with him the night of the beating, so he punched her on her left side, kicked her in the same spot while she was down, then stomped on her back.

The warrant states the victim told police she “became paralyzed," couldn't move and was in “indescribable pain.”

Spencer took her phone and wouldn't let her call for help until the next morning.

“The majority of cases are misdemeanor cases, which means they're in the municipal court. They're not in the criminal district court and so, this is a felony case, which means it's a very serious situation,” Landry said.

Spencer was released from Orleans Parish Prison last Friday, just three days after his guilty plea because the time he served in jail awaiting trial surpassed the six month total sentence that had been entered into the court’s computer system.

“It's a horrendous error,” Landry said.

A spokesman for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman said it was a legal release from their standpoint because that's how it was entered into their computer system.

“She thinks she's gonna be safe for 33 months. She agreed to that, you know? She was in the court for that and, you know, to then have that be mistaken,” Landry questioned.

In their short, three-month relationship, court records also show the victim alleged Spencer had given her a black eye and on a separate occasion had tried to choke her.

While Hunter also signed a protective order to keep Spencer away from the woman, it was little consolation for the victim until he's back in prison.

“For some of these cases, it really could put the victim at very serious risk. And so, we just have to make sure these kinds of errors don't happen in the future,” Landry said.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office said they reached out to the court to correct the error when they found out about it. The victim in the case was receiving victim assistance services until Spencer can be re-arrested.

Anyone with information about where Spencer might be should contact the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office at (504) 827-8505.

Earlier this week, the sheriff's office confirmed a man had turned himself back in a day after also being released in error.

53-year-old habitual offender Anthony Martin was sentenced to 55 months in prison on a possession of cocaine charge in criminal court last week.

The sheriff's office admitted a clerical error led them to release Martin instead of transferring him to state custody after his sentencing.

 

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