Conflicting court orders lead to inmate's mistaken release, hours after armed robber pleads guilty

Sabastian Littlejohn re-arrested 1 day later

DENVER - It appears an 18-year-old man was mistakenly released from Denver jail on the same the day he pleaded guilty to armed robbery because of two contradictory court documents.

Sabastian Littlejohn was initially charged as a 17-year-old juvenile for his role in a string of armed robberies of Denver cellphone stores during the summer of 2013.

But after the Denver district attorney charged him as an adult, Littlejohn pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery Monday in District Court. The District Court judge ordered that his bond stay at $100,000 and that he remain in custody, awaiting his sentencing on April 28.

After that hearing, Littlejohn was taken to Juvenile Court where -- as part of his plea agreement -- two juvenile cases, including the original robbery case, were dismissed, officials said.

Denver Sheriff's Gary Wilson, who oversees the jail system, says his agency obeyed a juvenile court order Monday that stated, "It is ordered that Sabastian Littlejohn, juvenile, be released from detention in the above case only," referring to the dismissed juvenile cases.

"From the perspective of the sheriff, we just want to be clear that we received a court order and it ordered the release of Sabastian Littlejohn and, per our procedures, we followed that court order," Wilson told 7NEWS Wednesday.

So, Littlejohn was released from the Downtown Detention Center at 12:52 p.m. Monday -- about four hours after the District Court judge's order that he remain in jail on $100,000 bond.  

"Early March 18, 2014 the Denver Sheriff Department learned Mr. Littlejohn would be facing felony charges in District Court and began working with the Denver Police Department to apprehend Mr. Littlejohn," according to a Tuesday news release by the Denver Department of Public Safety, which oversees the sheriff and police departments.

In a Denver police statement supporting a warrant to re-arrest Littlejohn, a detective wrote "Littlejohn should not have been released and is pending sentencing at this time" on the District Court robbery case.

Denver police re-arrested Littlejohn on Tuesday afternoon.

 As part of his plea agreement, Littlejohn and prosecutors agreed on a sentence of five years in the state's Youthful Offender System with a 15-year suspended sentenced in state prison, said Denver District Attorney spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough.

The stipulated sentence gives the 18-year-old defendant with a history of violent crime an opportunity to go to the Youthful Offender System where he'll have "more resources" to turn his life around, Kimbrough said.

 "If he doesn't figure it out, then he is looking at 15 years in prison," because a judge can impose the suspended sentence to the state Department of Corrections, Kimbrough said.

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