The signature of Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry, who's best known for overseeing the Casey Anthony murder trial, was among those forged in the mistaken prison release of two men convicted of murders in the Orlando area.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office and Orlando police continue to search for Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, who were released separately from a prison in the Panhandle in late September and early October, respectively. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement didn't learn of the mistakes until Tuesday.
Perry told Local 6 News on Thursday that criminals are constantly trying to find ways to game the system.
"You've got to realize that criminals have a lot of time on their hands -- 24 hours a day with nothing to do but think about ways to scam the system," Perry said. "And as soon as we plug one hole, you have another hole you've got to plug also."
According to officials, Jenkins’ incorrect release began in 2011 with someone forging then-prosecutor and current State Attorney Jeff Ashton’s name on a “motion to correct illegal sentence.” A day later, Judge Renee Roche’s name was forged, granting the motion and changing Jenkins’ life sentence to 15 years.
Two years later, in August 2013, prosecutor James Altman’s name was forged in another motion and Perry’s name was improperly used the next day, granting the motion. About five weeks later, Jenkins was released from prison.
Perry, whose signature was electronically forged, said a funding increase would be necessary to create more system oversight. Perry said the error initially came to light when a family member of one of the victims received an alert about the release and contacted the state attorney's office.
Jenkins and Walker lived in Central Florida and their convictions derived from crimes committed in Orange County and the city of Orlando.
Deputies said Jenkins, serving a life sentence in the 1998 murder of a father of six, escaped Sept. 27. Walker, who was convicted on second-degree murder charges in a 1999 slaying and was also issued a life sentence, escaped Oct. 8.
The Florida Department of Corrections said it would not speculate whether they thought Walker and Jenkins were working together or could now be together.
OCSO said it is using all resources to apprehend the two and bring then into custody.
Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Jenkins' and Walker's release from prison.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the inmates should contact police, Crimeline, the FDLE or the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
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