8:00 PM EDT, June 15, 2011
I hate it when my day starts out the way today did. I pick up my South Bend Tribune (6/16) and read a story that makes me shout, “Are you kidding me.”
That is what happened as I read the headlined article: “Sex offender mistakenly let go before sentencing.” The headline would have been more spot on if it had read, “stupidly let go.”
Here is the short version of what happened. In May, 31-year-old Matt Murillo was found guilty of four felonies for sexually assaulting and battering his pregnant ex-girlfriend. One week later he was not only out of jail but he also vanished. Did he pull a John Dillinger and bust out? No, he did it the easy way by paying a measly $5,000 bond.
Under Indiana law there should have been NO bond while Murilo awaited sentencing for his heinous crimes.
Of the three entities involved in this legal debacle – Judge Jerome Frese, the Saint Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office and the Saint Joseph County Sheriff’s Department – only one should not be held accountable and that is the sheriff’s department. Why? Because the $5,000 bond had never been taken out of the prisoner computer system. So when Murillo (or someone else) came up with the money, the sheriff’s department followed protocol and let him go.
Can you even imagine what the victim of this man has to be thinking every waking moment of the day? She is thinking he could come back at me at any time.
But as I read the Tribune article neither the judge nor the prosecutor is taking the blame for what happened.
Maybe I watched too many episodes of Law and Order, but after the conviction shouldn’t the judge have asked if Murillo had a previous record (he does), or shouldn’t the prosecutor have brought it up?
A lot of us these days talk about the growing lack of people taking personal responsibility in this country. Too often it is always someone else’s fault. But surely a judge or a prosecutor or a deputy prosecutor can step up and say I screwed up.
Hopefully this incident will lead to some kind of added checklist for local authorities to ensure it does not happen again.
In the meantime if this criminal Murillo hurts another woman, it should be a spot on the soul of someone – or more than just someone – in Saint Joseph County, Indiana.
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