2 killers escape prison with bogus documents

By Mike Schneider And Brendan Farrington

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17 2013 6:15 p.m. MDT

Other inmates have escaped with fake paperwork. In 2010, a Wisconsin killer forged documents that shortened his prison sentence and he walked free. He was captured a week later. In 2012, a prisoner in Pennsylvania was let out with bogus court documents and the mistake wasn't discovered until more than three months later.

Florida state Rep. Darryl Rouson, the Democratic ranking member of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, said the Legislature should hold hearings to examine the agency's procedures.

"This is unconscionable, almost unthinkable," said Rouson, a St. Petersburg lawyer.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott said he was focused on the manhunt.

"The first thing you do when something like this happens is solve the problem you have at hand," he said. "We need to apprehend these individuals and that's what we're doing."

In both cases, the forged paperwork included motions from prosecutors to correct "illegal" sentences, accompanied by orders allegedly filed by Perry within the last couple of months. The orders granted a 15-year sentence. Perry is best known for presiding over the Casey Anthony murder trial in 2011.

Leesa Bainbridge, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Clerk of Courts, said the office moves thousands of pages of court documents a day and currently has no way of authenticating those that pass through to other agencies.

"We're kind of like the post office," Bainbridge said. "It comes in and we move it along."

Bainbridge said officials in the clerk's office plan to talk about what measures, if any, can be put in place to make sure something similar doesn't happen again.

"This is something we take very seriously," she said. "We don't find this funny."

Perry said changing the type of paper orders are printed on, or requiring a phone call to the judge's office could help. More technologically advanced measures may have to be implemented as Florida's court system finishes transitioning into a paperless system, he said.

"I think this will open that discussion," Perry said.

Farrington reported from Tallahassee.

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter: twitter.com/mikeschneiderap

Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter: twitter.com/bsfarrington

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