ST. LOUIS • A mistake by a city sheriff’s worker allowed a St. Louis man to be freed from jail without paying the $15,000 bail he owed on one of four pending drug cases.
That happened four months ago. Until this week, nobody noticed.
In fact, even the defendant, Terrell Love, 21, didn’t seem to know he was technically a fugitive. He continued to go to court on his other cases, interacting with a host of judges, lawyers and other court officials.
It was only this week that the problem was rectified, thanks to a bail bondsman, Phil March, of Thelma Jackson Bail Bonds, who noticed something amiss and alerted authorities.
On Tuesday morning, Love was rearrested on a judge’s order and held with a new, $15,000 cash bail.
Mike Guzy, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said the mistake was made July 3, after a judge ordered that Love be released on a summons on his misdemeanor. A clerk in the sheriff department’s records section entered it without noticing that Love would still have post a $15,000 bail on the felony case that was holding him.
Eddie Roth, the city director of public safety, said jailers released Love based on the entry from the sheriff’s department, and after seeing there were no active warrants.
Love had been in jail since a June 13 arrest. All four cases related to possession of either hydrocodone or marijuana.
“It should have been caught, but it wasn’t,” Guzy said Tuesday. “It was our mistake.”
He added: “I have no idea why it took so long for it to be noticed.”
Judge Michael Stelzer, who ordered the release July 3 on the misdemeanor, noted his order was not relative to the pending felonies.
When Love didn’t appear in court Aug. 7, Stelzer issued a failure-to-appear warrant, but cancelled it when Love showed for court the next day.
In September, Love and his attorney, Robert Taaffe, went before Judge Philip Heagney for the felony case and asked that he be placed on call. It indicates that a defendant is ready to go to trial.
In October, Heagney assigned the case to Judge Thomas Grady, who scheduled all four cases for a Nov. 16 guilty plea.
Heagney said he first learned of the bail error Monday morning, from a supervisor in the sheriff’s department. He immediately issued an arrest warrant.
Grady said he was also unaware of any problems until Monday. From what he could tell on Oct. 25, he said, Love had met the bail conditions in his other cases and was out lawfully on the other, as there were no active warrants.