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Convicted murderer Steven Robbins is back in Indiana this afternoon, three days following his mistaken release from the Cook County Jail after being brought to Chicago to dispose of an old case against him, according to the Cook County sheriff’s office.

Before being driven to Indiana Robbins appeared midday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building court for less than two minutes before Judge Edward Harmening.

Robbins, wearing a black zip up North Face jacket over a gray hoodie sweatshirt, dark blue jeans, and black and green gyms shoes, did not address the judge but leaned over a couple of times to whisper into Asst. Public Defender Todd Chatman’s ear. His hands were cuffed in front of him.

During the hearing Chatman emphasized to Harmening that Robbins was inadvertently let go, not that he escaped on his own accord.

“He had no intention to attempt to escape,” Chatman told the judge in open court.

Though an escape charge was dropped, the judge ruled the arrest warrant would stay on his record. Two sheriff’s deputies accompanied Robbins before the judge.

He was taken back into custody in Kankakee Friday night and on Saturday morning Robbins was held at the Cook County Sheriff’s police lockup in Maywood prior to his court hearing, said Bilecki. Friday in the 400 block of Fraser Avenue in Kankakee, according to Bilecki.

“He was found at the home of an acquaintance, watching TV,” said Bilecki. “They caught him totally off guard.”

Robbins was wearing a wig while watching television and also had just gone grocery shopping, according to Bilecki.

Bilecki said Dart was on the scene and assisted in the arrest.

Earlier, Dart took responsibility for mistakenly letting Robbins walk out of County Jail after a local charge against him was dismissed.

“We let people down,
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no mistake about it,” Dart said in an interview at sheriff’s offices in Maywood. Marshals Service and Cook County Crimestoppers had raised $12,000 as a reward for information leading to Robbins’ capture, he said.

Dart said his office is still looking at where and how the system broke down to allow Robbins’ mistaken release from the jail, but he said that officials at the jail had no paperwork showing he was serving time in an Indiana prison for murder.

Like other indigent people, Robbins was outfitted with clothing from Goodwill a long sleeve brown shirt and brown pants before being released out the front entrance, Dart said. He also likely was given bus fare.

Dart said the sheriff’s office uses an archaic system entirely paper driven in handling the movement of an average of about 1,500 inmates every day. Some are entering the jail after their arrest and others are being bused to courthouses around the county for court appearances.

The sheriff said the warrant for Robbins’ arrest should have been quashed by prosecutors when armed violence charges were dismissed against him in 2007. In addition, he said prosecutors signed off on the sheriff’s office traveling to Indiana to pick up Robbins at the prison in Michigan City and bring him back on the outstanding warrant.

“We were able to get an extradition warrant on a case that didn’t exist,” Dart said.

“Please be advised that this subject is in our custody under the temporary custody provision of the interstate agreement on detainers,” a sheriff’s order accompanying Robbins’ paperwork read. The order noted Robbins’ murder conviction and 60 year sentence and then stated he “must be returned to the custody of Indiana DOC.”

In addition, Judge Rickey Jones, assigned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building, ordered the Illinois case dismissed on Wednesday and wrote on paperwork that Robbins was to be released for “this case only,” the records show.

Yet Robbins was allowed to walk free out of the Cook County Jail Wednesday evening after his court appearance.

Also under investigation was why Robbins whose 1992 charges of armed violence and drug possession had been dismissed by prosecutors nearly six years ago was even brought to Chicago in the first place.

Robbins spent the night in the Cook County Jail on Tuesday to attend a court date Wednesday on a warrant issued when he skipped bail in his 1992 case, Bilecki said on Thursday. The requisite paperwork spelled out the terms of his release and return,
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Garrison said.