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Accused murderer released

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A nationwide search was launched yesterday after Lucas County officials discovered that they mistakenly had released an accused murderer Friday afternoon.

Grady Brinkley, who walked out of the jail with 45 cents in his pocket and a three-day head start on police, is considered extremely dangerous. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Brinkley in connection with the slashing death of his ex-girlfriend earlier this year.

“We want the public to know that an alleged murderer is out and about in the community,” Lucas County Sheriff Ken Perry said.

Mr. Brinkley, 33, whose last known address is 2129 Collingwood Blvd., was released from the jail at about 5 p.m. Friday after a paperwork error .

Mr. Perry said the mistake was not discovered until about noon yesterday. His office and the Lucas County prosecutor's office held a joint press conference at 3 p.m. and asked the public for help.

“We'd like all the information we can get from them so we can locate that individual,” Mr. Perry said.

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Assistant Prosecutor J. Christopher Anderson, left, and Sheriff Ken Perry say the FBI is assisting with the search.

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Mr. Brinkley reportedly purchased a bus ticket to Detroit, but it is unclear if he went to the city, said John Weglian, chief of the special units division of the Lucas County prosecutor's office.

Lt. Rick Reed, of the Toledo police department, said Mr. Brinkley is considered dangerous because he might try or might have tried to rob someone since he had little money when he was released.

“We're going to go back and look at some reports about some crimes that happened over the weekend,” Lieutentant Reed said. “We'll look at some stolen cars and some street robberies. But if he's a smart man, he's not going to stay here.”

The mishap leading to Mr. Brinkley's release followed a hearing Friday at Lucas County Common Pleas Court. To make the case easier to handle, prosecutors had consolidated charges from two cases, and re-indicted Mr. Brinkley for aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in two separate instances.

After the new charges were filed, the old charges were dropped at the hearing in front of Judge James Jensen.

When Mr. Brinkley was taken back to jail, a deputy apparently noticed that the old charges had been dismissed, but didn't realize new charges had taken their place, Sheriff Perry said.

Mr. Brinkley was released from the jail about 11/2 hours after the hearing.

Sheriff Perry said his office is investigating, but it is too early to tell if the deputy, whom he didn't name, would be disciplined.

“It appears that it was an error on our part and it will be investigated internally and dealt with appropriately,” he said. “Our primary emphasis is the safety of the community.”

Mr. Perry said the FBI is involved in the manhunt and Chicago police have been notified. The FBI arrested Mr. Brinkley in that city in January after Ms. Smith's death. Upon his arrest, he asked, “Does Ohio have the death penalty?”

J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant prosecutor in charge of Mr. Brinkley's case, said police believe Mr. Brinkley killed Ms. Smith because she had a new boyfriend.

Mr. Brinkley was in jail awaiting trial for the aggravated robbery of Rick's City Diner, 4202 Monroe St., on Nov. 6, 1999, when Ms. Smith posted his bond on Dec. 17, Mr. Anderson said.

“He told people he wasn't going to stick around town,” Mr. Anderson said.

Ms. Smith's mother found her 18-year-old daughter's body in the evening of Jan. 8 after going to her home because she hadn't heard from her for several days.

A deputy coroner said Ms. Smith had been struck in the face and died of a single cut wound across the neck.

Mr. Anderson said Mr. Brinkley was videotaped trying to use Ms. Smith's ATM card on Jan. 7. He was arrested Jan. 13 by the FBI and was returned in June to Lucas County. He remained in jail until his release.

Mr. Brinkley's release has jarred Ms. Smith's family, said Joan Coleman, the director of the victim's assistance program for the prosecutor's office. She said family members did not want to speak about the incident, but hope he will be apprehended soon.

“They were upset and they just don't understand how it could happen,” Mrs. Coleman said. “They were also somewhat fearful.

“They know that we're after him and that we're going to do the best that we can to capture him. They have faith that we will.”

Mr. Brinkley, who is 6-foot, 4 inches tall and weighs 180 pounds, is black and has brown eyes. Sheriff Perry said anyone who knows anything about his whereabouts can call the Crime Stopper hotline at 255-1111.

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