Mistakes let accused killer out of jail - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mistakes let accused killer out of jail

Sonyanna Thomas Sonyanna Thomas
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October 23, 2003

Albany- A wife and mother might be alive today, were it not for a series of blunders.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sonyanna Thomas was abducted and killed after she apparently interrupted a burglary at her home October 2nd. The man accused of killing her, Sammy Brown, should have been in jail the day of the murder-- but had been mistakenly released.

On May 12, 2003, Sammy Brown was sentenced to four years in prison for burglary.

So why was he a free man on September 1st? "Who's most at fault? I don't know," said Lee County Deputy Dennis Parker.

Dougherty County jailers were holding Brown until his transfer to the state pen. But Lee County wanted Brown on entering auto charges. So, on June 19th, a Lee County Corporal signed a "Hold" form, that promised Brown would be returned to the Dougherty County Jail.

Lee County misplaced their copy. "I don't know why we didn't get a copy of it or why we don't have a copy of it, but we do know it was not in our file until yesterday when they faxed us a copy," parker said.

In August, the Lee County Jail was overcrowded. To thin the population, several inmates' bonds were lowered, including Sammy Brown's-- from $10,000 to $3,000.

On the same day his bond was lowered, a Lee County S.O. employee called the Dougherty County Jail to ask if their was a hold on him. Chief Dennis Parker says they were told there wasn't. "They said they didn't have a hold. What happens is the person who was checking for the hold checked the warrants, rather then the other paper work, probably."

So, on September 1st, Sammy Brown paid $3,000 and walked out of the Lee County Jail.

Now, he's charged with killing Sonyanna Thomas, one month and one day later. "It just makes me wonder, if he would have been where he should have maybe all this wouldn't have happened," said Lawrence Thomas, the victim's husband. "I just want to know what's going on. I want some facts. I don't want them to point the finger. I want to know why was he out!"

A free man when he should have been serving four years behind bars.

The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office says they have no record of telling Lee County there wasn't a hold on Sammy Brown, and that they didn't want him.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

posted at 5:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com