A 30-year-old man mistaken for a Dallas County fugitive spent nearly four months in an Alabama jail for crimes he didn't commit because sheriff's officials did not make routine fingerprint checks.
Samuel David Ramirez Perez was arrested in a small southern Alabama town in November after a traffic stop revealed he shared the name of a man wanted in Dallas County on 1999 felony drug charges.
After his arrest, Perez repeatedly insisted he was not the man wanted in Texas and fought extradition. But sheriff's officials here and in Alabama didn't ask each other for fingerprints they had on file that would have set Perez free.
Last month, a Dallas County sheriff's deputy flew to Baldwin County, Ala., and brought Perez to Dallas. A fingerprint analysis at the Lew Sterrett jail complex revealed the error, and sheriff's officials put Perez on a bus home to Alabama. ...
State laws governing criminal extradition don't stipulate which agency is supposed to try to match fingerprints to confirm a fugitive's identity. The Dallas County sheriff and Baldwin County sheriff blame each other for the mix-up, saying the other was responsible for verifying the innocent man's identity.
The result is that taxpayers in both counties will have to pay thousands of dollars – for Perez's 16-week jail stay and the travel costs to bring him to Dallas.
The Governor's office coordinates extraditions, but it couldn't have helped that correspondence between the states misidentified the Alabama governor, says Krause. If the fellow had ever been appointed a lawyer while awaiting his trip to Texas it probably would have prevented the whole mess.