- Mostly clear
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Two convicted killers serving life in a Florida prison were mistakenly freed recently after forged court documents reduced their sentences, authorities said.
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were released separately from a prison in the Panhandle in late September and early October, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.
"These two individuals are out. They shouldn't be, and we want to get them back in custody," sheriff's office spokesman Angelo Nieves said. "This shouldn't have happened, but it did, and our concern is to get these individuals into custody."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement learned about the mistake Tuesday.
Jenkins was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1998 killing of an Orlando man. Jenkins and his cousin, Angelo Pearson, were convicted in the shooting death of Roscue Pugh.
Upon hearing of the Jenkins' release, his former attorney, Bob Wesley, said he was sure "it wasn't a cunning master plan."
Wesley, now an Orlando public defender, recalled his client's crime and said Jenkins broke into a home of someone he knew and was "not smart enough to pull his ski mask down."
Walker was convicted of second-degree murder in a 1999 slaying in Orange County. He told investigators that 23-year-old Cedric Slater was bullying him and he fired three shots intending to scare him.
Walker's then-defense attorney, Robert LeBlanc, now a judge in Orlando, refused to comment.
The Florida Department of Corrections said the men were released from the Carrabelle prison based on forged documents filed through the Orange County clerk of courts.
One man was picked up by his family and the other was given a bus ticket and brought to a bus station by the Department of Corrections, spokeswoman Misty Cash said. She said prison officials work with inmates who are getting out to make sure they get to their next destination.
"If they need a bus ticket, we'll provide that for them," she said.
The forged paperwork had the template of documents coming from Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry, who presided over the Casey Anthony murder trial in 2011, said Leesa Bainbridge, a spokeswoman for the Orange County clerk of courts.
Bainbridge said the clerk's office moves thousands of pages of court documents a day and currently has no way of authenticating those that pass through to other agencies.
"We're kind of like the post office," Bainbridge said. "It comes in and we move it along."
In a statement, Corrections Secretary Michael Crews said his agency was "conducting a vigorous and thorough review of releases that were based on modified court orders received from Orange County to ensure that there are no other inmates who have been released based on falsified documents."
State, county and prison authorities were searching for the men.
"We're working with other law enforcement partners on how this could have happened, but right now our primary focus is on the manhunt," said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. "We are in the very early stages of the investigation to determine what happened."
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A long-awaited study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a link between tainted tap water at a U.S. Marine Corps…
Happy or sad? Content or bored? And how many times did you smile yesterday? A panel of experts thinks Uncle Sam should be more in touch with…
The Obama administration said Friday it will allow some companies to kill or injure bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years without penalty
A Washington state woman who regularly monitors police scanner traffic unknowingly live-tweeted about her husband's death in a freeway crash.
A fourth straight month of solid hiring cut the U.S. unemployment rate in November to a five-year low of 7 percent. The gains in the job…
A big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather.
One fisherman uses a bike to deliver hundreds of pounds of salmon to local markets. A mom who regularly shuttles her two kids around town…
It looks like President Barack Obama's fickle health insurance website is finally starting to put up some respectable sign-up numbers,…
Authorities say they've arrested an 18-year-old accused of stealing part of the Porsche that "Fast & Furious" star Paul…
"Cannibal sandwiches," an appetizer featuring raw, lean ground beef served on cocktail bread, may be a Wisconsin tradition, but…