Fort Lauderdale, FL- Eric Vail, 28, was being held at a Broward County jail on a second-degree murder charge. But on Thursday, the jail was told Vail's charges were dismissed and he was released.
The Sheriff's Office denies it did anything wrong, saying "on Thursday, the Broward Sheriff's Office received unequivocal direction from the State Attorney's Office that the second-degree murder charge on Eric Vail had been dismissed."
The State Attorney's office says that when Vail was initially arrested he was charged with second-degree murder, which is protocol. However, during a grand jury trial, Vail was indicted on a first-degree murder charge instead. The office kept the second-degree murder charge open for fifty days after the indictment, and on Thursday, the second-degree murder charge was dropped. But Vail was still facing the first-degree murder charge. “The grand jury subsequently indicted the defendant on the first-degree murder charge on April 3. The defendant was arraigned on the more serious charge on April 9. The defendant was taken to court by the Sheriff’s Office on the first-degree murder charge on Thursday, so it’s hard to know how the Sheriff’s Office didn’t know about the first-degree murder charge," the State Attorney's Office said.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office says the accidental release shows the ongoing communication issue with the court system.
"At the time Vail was scheduled for release, the jail had not received any documentation from the Clerk of Courts stating the subject was to remain in custody to face another charge," the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office says their focus remains on the apprehension of this dangerous criminal and asks the public to remain vigilant.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stopper at 954-493-TIPS.