Man turns himself in after mixup sets him free

George Hunter
The Detroit News

A man who was mistakenly released from police custody after prosecutors authorized two felony warrants against him for allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend is back behind bars.

Robert Baker III turned himself in at about 10 p.m. Thursday at the Detroit Police Department's 3rd Precinct, Deputy Chief David LeValley said.

Baker, 42, was arrested by Wayne State University police at 8 p.m. Saturday after someone called to report he was knocking on his ex-girlfriend’s apartment door. That was in violation of a personal protection order she’d filed against him, authorities said.

Wayne State officers, who handled the case because the woman’s apartment building is near the campus, arrived at the building and found Baker there. They arrested him and took him to the Detroit Detention Center on Mound Road on the city’s east side.

While Baker was incarcerated at the detention center, the detective in charge of the case submitted felony warrant requests to the Wayne County Prosecutors Office for aggravated stalking and witness intimidation, both 10-year felonies.

Prosecutors authorized the warrants, but because officers at the detention center weren’t alerted to the new charges, they sent him Monday to Wayne Circuit Court’s “PPO court” in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Baker was arraigned on charges of violating the protection order and Wayne Circuit Judge Adel Harb set bond at $5,000 and scheduled a trial for July 29.

Baker posted bond and was on the run until Thursday night.

To avoid such mixups in the future, LeValley said detectives need to alert detention center personnel whenever they’re seeking new charges against a prisoner.

“(Detention center officers) don’t know there’s a warrant request out for someone unless they’ve been alerted. The only thing on the intake sheet was the PPO violation, so they did their normal procedure, which is to take the prisoner to PPO court.”

LeValley said investigators should alert detention center personnel about an “initial charge” against the prisoner, so officers know there are pending charges. An initial charge is when someone is being held on probable cause, but no warrant has been issued. A final charge is when a warrant request has been granted.

“Any time we have an initial charge, we don’t send them to court; when officers see an initial charge, that means a detective somewhere in the department is working on a case against this guy. If there’s not an initial charge, or if nobody tells the (detention center officers) to hold the guy, they can only go by what’s on the intake sheet, which in this case was a PPO violation.

“You had (detention center officers) sending this guy to PPO court, and simultaneously, you have an aggravated stalking warrant being issued. The two things were happening on different tracks, and (Baker) was released.”

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN