Marc-Eugene Larson was charged with two counts of first-degree assault in February, accused of shooting two men. When a judge ordered the release of a material witness in the case, Larson, 38, was released too. He was booked back into jail on Monday.
After a third inmate in three months was accidentally released from jail last week, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Tuesday he has appointed an outside investigator to review the county’s inmate-release policies at both the county jail in downtown Seattle and the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
The latest incident involved what jail officials called the “inadvertent release” of 38-year-old Marc-Eugene Larson, who had been jailed since February on two counts of first-degree assault, accused of shooting two men. After a week of freedom, Larson was re-arrested on Monday and is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail, according to court and jail records.
The outside investigator appointed by Constantine will report to Interim Jail Director Brenda Bauer, who also serves as Constantine’s deputy chief operating officer, according to spokesman Alex Fryer.
“The scope of the review will include examining how court documents are processed and release procedures followed by the commitment officer, the release officer and sergeant that oversees the process,” Fryer wrote in an email. “The investigator will also provide recommendations on best practices for inmate processing and release, and how best to coordinate with courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies.”
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On Oct. 1, a superior court judge ordered the release of a material witness in the criminal case against Larson, who is accused of shooting two men in January in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood, according to court records. The witness, who is one of Larson’s alleged victims, spent three weeks in jail before he was let go.
Based on the judge’s order to release the material witness, jail staff also released Larson on Oct. 1, the records say.
Judges can issue arrest warrants for material witnesses — people believed to have information material to a criminal proceeding — if those witnesses refuse to voluntarily show up for interviews with attorneys or for trial.
Willie Hayes, the director of the King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention, said in an email Tuesday that the jail became aware of Larson’s “inadvertent release” on Sunday from the prosecutor’s office and has started an investigation.
“It appears a form from the court that typically orders the release of a defendant was modified to release a material witness. The paperwork was incorrectly processed, and both the material witness and defendant, Marc-Eugene Larsen (sic), were released,” Hayes wrote. “The Superior Court issued an arrest warrant and Mr. Larsen (sic) was taken back into custody Monday evening. We plan to meet with the court about creating a form that is specific to material witnesses, and that form is in development.”
According to charging papers, Larson targeted the man released from jail last week because the man had allegedly stolen Larson’s car, which contained Larson’s drugs, cash and handgun. The man had been with Larson at a casino on Jan. 27 and apparently took off in Larson’s car while Larson and a friend were still inside, charging papers say.
Four days later, on Jan. 31, Larson tracked the man to South Park based on something the man had posted on Facebook, say the charges. Larson found the man sitting in the driver’s seat of Larson’s Ford Taurus and fired into the vehicle, where the bullet struck a male passenger in the back, charging papers say. The man who had allegedly stolen the car begged Larson not to hurt him and was shot in the leg as he tried to run away, the charges say. The man lost consciousness at the scene and underwent surgery at Harborview Medical Center. The passenger who was shot in the back was also treated at Harborview.
Larson’s trial is scheduled for January 2019.
In August, 49-year-old Joseph Tremato — who was jailed in Seattle on several felony drug and residential-burglary charges — slipped among a group of inmates who were being released and donned street clothes he either found in the trash or was given by other inmates, court records say. He was arrested three weeks later and has since been charged with second-degree escape and vehicle prowling; he was allegedly in possession of small amounts of methamphetamine and crack cocaine when he was taken back into custody, jail and court records show. He remains jailed in lieu of $401,000 bail.
Devon Hatcher, 25, spent five days at the Regional Justice Center on a residential-burglary charge and was erroneously released on Sept. 1, according to jail records and a September news release from Constantine’s office. An investigation is underway but it appears Hatcher was released because paperwork wasn’t handled properly, the release says. Hatcher remains at large and is wanted on a $20,000 arrest warrant.