Broward County

Accidentally released alleged killer back behind Broward County bars after trip to Georgia

Eric Vail was back behind Broward County bars Friday after being accidentally released May 30.
Eric Vail was back behind Broward County bars Friday after being accidentally released May 30. Broward County Sheriff's Office

After he took a short vacation to Georgia after being mistakenly released from a Broward Jail, Eric Vail was back behind South Florida bars on Friday.

Vail, who is facing a murder charge in the Oct. 26 murder of Wadarius Harris in West Park, freely walked out of jail when the Broward County Sheriff’s Office released him.

He was free for about 40 days until he was arrested in Jesup, Georgia, on July 10. He barricaded himself inside a mobile home and was taken into custody after a three-hour standoff.

Who is at fault for the accidental release has every agency involved pointing fingers at each other.

Vail was originally arrested in January on a second-degree murder charge. Deputies believe he murdered Harris while riding shotgun with driver Christopher Campbell. Vail pleaded not guilty on March 13.

Court records show a grand jury upped those charges to first-degree murder in Harris’ death on April 4. Vail pleaded not guilty on May 1.

In a timeline released last month, deputies said they never received paperwork that said Vail had a first-degree murder charge. So when the second-degree murder charge was dropped, he was released.

“If Department of Detention staff had received a capias, court order or warrant for the Murder 1 indictment at any time prior to his release, Vail would not have been released on May 30,” BSO said in the timeline.

In a response, the Clerk of Courts shifted the blame to the prosecuting attorney and courts because they never released a directive “for a capias to be issued.”

“Several internal reviews by the clerk’s office and multiple subsequent meetings with Broward County courthouse stakeholders confirmed that the clerk of court never received such a directive,” the office said in last month’s response. “Consequently, the Broward Clerk of Courts concludes that it followed the Florida statutes, administrative rules, and other applicable law when processing the court records relating to Eric Alexander Vail, Jr.”

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Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.