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

Mistakes let accused killer out of jail

Sonyanna Thomas Sonyanna Thomas

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

  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Will FEMA extend Monday's registration deadline?

    Will FEMA extend Monday's registration deadline?

    Monday, March 27 2017 12:16 PM EDT2017-03-27 16:16:41 GMT

    With less than 7 hours to go before the last FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in South Georgia closes permanently, and the deadline to register with FEMA expires, the staff is seeing a steady flow of people seeking help.  

    More >>

    With less than 7 hours to go before the last FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in South Georgia closes permanently, and the deadline to register with FEMA expires, the staff is seeing a steady flow of people seeking help.  

    More >>
  • Thomas schools increase security after social 'threat'

    Thomas schools increase security after social 'threat'

    Monday, March 27 2017 11:51 AM EDT2017-03-27 15:51:54 GMT
    (WALB image)(WALB image)

    The Thomas County School Messenger says that the system beefed up school security today, after a social media threat, that it deemed 'vague and not credible." 

    More >>

    The Thomas County School Messenger says that the system beefed up school security today, after a social media threat, that it deemed 'vague and not credible." 

    More >>
  • Man wanted in Coffee starts high-speed chase

    Man wanted in Coffee starts high-speed chase

    Monday, March 27 2017 10:00 AM EDT2017-03-27 14:00:41 GMT
    Highsmith arrested (Source: Coffee Police Scanner)Highsmith arrested (Source: Coffee Police Scanner)

    Coffee County deputies conducted a traffic stop on 31-year-old John Thomas Highsmith Saturday afternoon just after 3:00 p.m. on the Willacoochee Highway. Highsmith ran through a stop sign, barely avoiding a multi-vehicle collision.

    More >>

    Coffee County deputies conducted a traffic stop on 31-year-old John Thomas Highsmith Saturday afternoon just after 3:00 p.m. on the Willacoochee Highway. Highsmith ran through a stop sign, barely avoiding a multi-vehicle collision.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly