The Washington Post

Mishandled paperwork blamed for murder suspect’s release

The murder suspect mistakenly released from jail on a $75,000 bond this month was freed because courthouse clerks inadvertently put another man’s paperwork in his file, according to court officials and records.

Frederick L. Scott, 24, was arrested in May and charged with first-degree murder and other counts stemming from the March 4 shooting of Phillip Watson, 30, of the District. According to prosecutors and police charging documents, Watson and a man with Scott were involved in a fight that spilled outside of the Surf Club on Kenilworth Avenue in Hyattsville. Authorities allege that Scott drove a car as the other man shot Watson.

A grand jury indicted Scott in July — then re-indicted him in August — on murder and other charges. He had been held on a no-bond status, which prosecutors assumed carried over from one indictment to the other, said Angela Alsobrooks, the state’s attorney for Prince George’s County.

At some point, though, the paperwork error made it appear that the court had set Scott’s bond at $75,000. That bond was supposed to be assigned to Carlton Malik Clark, a man charged in a drug case, according to court records and officials.

On Nov. 10 — the same day that prosecutors, Scott’s defense attorney and a judge met to discuss the status of the case — Scott posted the bond and was released, court records show. He remains unaccounted for.

Thomas C. Mooney, Scott’s defense attorney, declined to comment through a woman who answered the phone at his office.

Alsobrooks and Angelita Plemmer, a Maryland judiciary spokeswoman, said Scott’s bond was not discussed at the status conference, and no one there initially was aware of the mistake. Days later, Alsobrooks said, the prosecutor on the case noticed that Scott had been released and filed an emergency motion to have him re-arrested.

Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Femia issued a warrant for Scott’s arrest on Nov. 18.

It remains unclear why Clark’s bond paperwork was placed into Scott’s file, court officials said. The case numbers are similar — Scott’s is 111238X and Clark’s is 111138X — but the cases are unrelated, officials said.

Plemmer said the incident prompted court officials to adjust the paperwork that prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges use at status meetings to ensure bond will always be addressed.

Meanwhile, police are searching for Scott and urging him to turn himself in.

“Our big thing is, he’s out there,” said Cpl. Mike Rodriguez, a Prince George’s County police spokesman, “and we need to get him back.”


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