NEW ORLEANS — A man accused of killing a store clerk in New Orleans East is behind bars after he turned himself in to police but was initially denied because he did not have proper ID.
Frank Sams, Jr. and his attorney Kelly Orians went to the New Orleans Justice Center on Wednesday in hopes of starting to fight a murder charge against him, Orians said.
When they got to the jail, though, Orians said deputies turned them away because Sams did not have the proper state identification to be booked.
"It was so frustrating to have someone choice to do the right thing and be challenged so much," Orians said.
The lawyer told The New Orleans Advocate that during the confusion deputies crowded around Sams to keep him out of the jail.
"We started what was essentially a back and forth -- kind of a fight where I found myself in this strange position where I was having to argue with law enforcement about whether my client had to be taken into custody," Orians said.
Sams' was not booked until Orians said she showed deputies a copy of a news article with details of the crime and Sams' photo attached.
"It seems like at that point, once I showed them this article with his picture that's when they decided they were actually going to take him into custody," Orians said.
Sams was eventually processed. According to police, he and another man already in custody, Farnell Jackson, Jr., robbed a gas station in September when a 58-year-old was shot and killed.
Following the incident, Blake Arcuri, Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office attorney, said identification is not needed to be booked into jail. He said the confusion was due to a spelling error on Sams' part.
"Sams repeatedly provided an incorrect spelling of his name, thus the warrant for his arrest could not be located in the computer system. As a result, staff asked for identification to assist with locating the warrant," Arcuri said.
Arcuri added that once the proper spelling was provided, the warrant was located and Sams was promptly booked.
Orians said otherwise.
"Frank's last name is Sams. It's a very simple name," Orians said.
Orians said that while she is frustrated by the ordeal, she hopes this can be used as a learning experience.
"I have worked with the sheriff's office for many years and I will say they have done a lot of improve the operations of the jail and this is just another opportunity for them to improve their policies, procedures and practices," she said.
Sams is a formerly incarcerated inmate. In the past, formerly incarcerated inmates have had issues getting IDs because a few different documents are needed to verify them, like a social security card and a copy of a birth certificate. Often times, inmates lose these items when they get locked up.
If convicted of this crime, Sams could face life in prison.