Criminal Justice

Prison releases 2 convicted murderers after forged court documents reduce their sentences

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Two convicted murderers were released by a Florida prison in recent weeks after forged court documents purporting to reduce their life sentences were filed with the Orange County clerk of courts.

The documents included claimed motions by an Orlando prosecutor seeking to correct their “illegal” sentences and orders by Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry purportedly granting the motions, the Associated Press reports.

The two men, Joseph Ivan Jenkins and Charles Bernard Walker, both 34, are being sought. An investigation is being conducted concerning the forged documents, which were apparently routinely processed along with other paperwork by the clerk of courts.

Jenkins was described by his former lawyer as an unlikely to have been capable of executing “a cunning master plan,” the news agency says. While breaking into the home of someone he knew, he was “not smart enough to pull his ski mask down,” attorney Bob Wesley said. The lawyer who formerly represented Walker declined to comment.

Perry told the Orlando Sentinel he believed the two men “had some help” in creating the documents. They followed a standard format and featured legitimate-seeming letterhead and the county seal, the newspaper says.

Officials at the Franklin Correctional Institution did nothing wrong, said a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. “Everything came the way it normally comes. Our department followed every protocol and did everything we are supposed to do.”

It isn’t clear how the forged documents came to the attention of officials on Tuesday. The Department of Corrections is investigating to see if any other inmates may have been released under similar circumstances, Fox News reports.

CNN, which also has a story, provides different sentences for the two men than the AP and Orlando Sentinel, although all the articles agree they were not supposed to be released.

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