Case of mistaken identity lands innocent St. Louis man in jail

Case of mistaken identity lands innocent St. Louis man in jail

Case of mistaken identity lands innocent St. Louis man in jail

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by Maggie Crane / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on March 15, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 5:32 AM

(KMOV) -- A case of mistaken identity landed an innocent St. Louis man behind bars.

Terrell Anderson, 30, was supposed to be going home after serving 14 months in the Ozark Correctional Center on a probation violation.  Instead, he was put back behind bars in St. Louis in a case of mistaken identity.  Turns out, the deputies wanted his brother Tarron, 24, who was already in prison in Illinois.

"I'm telling [the deputies] I'm not the person," Anderson said.  "I showed them my GED papers with my name on it.  I showed them my paperwork that had my name on it everywhere.  I showed them my personal belongings with my name on it."

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But the deputies still doubted him and hauled him in.  Terrell's wife spent hours trying to explain the truth to anyone who would listen.

"The [jail employees] said 'well just let him run his case. He can apply for a public defender or hire an attorney,' which, everyone I talked to cost at least $1,000," Alecia Anderson said.  "I said, 'hire an attorney for a case that's not even his?'

To top it all off, the St. Louis Justice Center has both of the brothers' information on file.  Both Terrell and Tarron have been incarcerated there.

"It was terrible," Terrell Anderson said.  "I mean, I was trying to talk to everybody on the first and second shift and they started blowing me off.  You know, they've got a computer fingerprinting machine down there now where we're fingerprinted and our names pop up.  I'm like, 'can't y'all tell from this right here?'"

More than three hours later, St. Louis Public Safety Director Eddie Roth found out about the mix up.

"It took a few hours to find its way to me, but nobody went home last night until he went home," Roth said.  "And he did go home about 10:30 p.m."

Roth juggled phone calls between the jail, police, the circuit attorney, the public defender and eventually a judge over the course of several hours.  He had to get a court order from a judge, who was at home, to spring Terrell late last night.

"The silver lining was how quickly the team came together," Roth said of the collaboration.  "We had sort of a real-time clinic on how these things go.  It's a bad situation. We're looking into how it was that he came to us in the first instance. We don't really understand that yet."

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