CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Kanawha County judge inadvertently released from jail a man accused of kidnapping after she mistakenly issued an order last month that dismissed his case.
Circuit Judge Carrie Webster said she was trying to clear her docket of cases she believed were inactive when she accidentally issued an order that dismissed a felony attempted-kidnapping charge against Jeremy Carter.
Carter, an apparent drifter from Tennessee, was arrested last year after he tried to take a child from a vehicle near the mound in South Charleston, police said. He believed the child was his own, according to prosecutors.
He was released from jail Thursday, Webster confirmed.
"I'm very upset," she said. "I own that, is what I mean. It is extraordinarily regretful that it happened, and it shouldn't have happened."
Webster said that, on Feb. 28, she issued about 20 dismissal orders, mostly for circuit court case numbers that she believed were either inactive or moot. In Carter's case, she intended to dismiss an irrelevant motion for a psychiatric evaluation. Prosecutors told her this week that she actually dropped the entire case, and that Carter had been released from the South Central Regional Jail.
The judge said that when she learned of the mistake, she immediately issued a warrant to have Carter rearrested and met with law enforcement to rectify the situation.
Webster said Carter called the Circuit Clerk's Office on Friday and volunteered to turn himself in.
A worker in the office told the Saturday Gazette-Mail that Carter called from a blocked number. It was not clear as of Friday evening if he has been taken into custody again.
"I have done every single thing I can to quickly remedy it, and this is an experience of learning that sometimes your orders say more than you're intending for them to say," Webster said. "It was never my intent to dismiss those felony numbers."