A man charged with first-degree murder got released from jail by mistake

Eric Vail
Eric Vail Broward Sheriff's Office

A man with an attempted murder conviction on his record and a new first-degree murder charge was mistakenly released from jail by the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

So, cops all over South Florida are looking for 28-year-old Eric Vail, six-foot-one and 214 pounds when he was arrested in January. The home address listed on that arrest report was in the 1200 block of Northwest 58th Street in Miami. That’s also the address listed with the Department of Corrections upon Vail’s March 2018 release after he did eight years for attempted first-degree murder, battery on detention staff and cocaine possession.

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Eric Vail when he went into prison in 2010 for attempted first degree murder. Florida Dept. of Corrections

A Monday afternoon statement from BSO spokesperson Keyla Concepcion blamed Vail’s sudden freedom on “an ongoing communication issue within the court system.”

Vail’s January arrest was on a second degree murder charge. BSO investigators believed Vail murdered Wadarius Harris on Oct. 26 in West Park while riding shotgun with driver Christopher Campbell. Campbell and Vail’s arrest warrants say Campbell had a running beef with Harris. Vail pleaded not guilty on March 13.

Christopher Campbell.jpg
Christopher Campbell is still in Broward County Jail facing eight charges, including premeditated murder in the shooting death of Wadarius Harris. Broward Sheriff's Office

According to Broward County court records, the grand jury indicted Vail for first-degree murder in Harris’ death on April 4. Vail pleaded not guilty on May 1.

To officially wrap up the case with the second-degree charge, prosecutors filed a notice on Thursday that they are abandoning the case. And Vail was released.

“While BSO detention deputies transport inmates in and out of court, they are only responsible for the care, custody and control of the inmate,” Concepcion’s statement read. “It is the responsibility of the Broward County Clerk of Courts to distribute official documentation between all the essential parties about court proceedings, to include communications involving inmates in custody.

“On Thursday, the Broward Sheriff’s Office was notified that the second-degree murder charge on Eric Vail had been dismissed. At the time Vail was scheduled for release, the jail had not received any documentation from the Clerk of Courts stating the subject was to remain in custody to face another charge.”

A statement sent by Broward State Attorney Office spokeswoman Paula McMahon said, “The defendant was taken to court by the Sheriff’s Office on the first-degree murder charge on Thursday so it’s hard to know how the Sheriff’s Office didn’t know about the first-degree murder charge.”

Concepcion’s statement concluded, “Our main priority at this time is to locate and apprehend this dangerous criminal. Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).”

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.