Our investigation into non-extradition warrants is prompting policy changes at the Crawford County Sheriff's Department
As part of our investigation along with USA Today exposing a nationwide problem of fugitives escaping state lines, we reported on the case of a man in Crawford County accused of rape and kidnapping in 2009 who had still not been extradited to Georgia from West Virginia.
The suspect, Jason Ware, was found in 2010 living in West Virginia after and FBI background check showed the outstanding warrant when he tried to purchase a weapon. Then, in 2011, Crawford County was notified when Ware was involved in a traffic stop. Ware also wrote a letter to the department asking them to drop the case because he no longer lived in Georgia.
Ware was never returned to Georgia to face the charge because the Crawford County Sheriff's department listed his warrant as "Georgia pick-up only." Sheriff Lewis Walker says that was because they felt he wasn't likely to leave the state.
Our investigation brought the issue to the sheriff's attention, and Walker says he'll be making some changes in how he handles those types of cases.
"We're just thankful that we were able to look at this case, and now it gives us a different perspective of how we're going forward in the future dealing with warrants in Crawford County," Walker says. "It did kind of bring an eye-opening to us that now, you know, we'll take a little bit different measure with this. If we get something serious now, my people know that we will immediately get with the District Attorney's office and go over the case and let them advise us what steps we need to go. If it's something that we need put that we will extradite beyond Georgia, we will do that."
After our story aired, District Attorney David Cooke said he would look into the 2009 rape case and seek extradition for the suspect.
But after consulting with investigators, Cooke found something else. Turns out the alleged victim also filed an allegation in Peach County, and then later asked them to drop the charges.
That information was never passed along to Crawford County, leaving Ware's rape and kidnapping warrant outstanding for 4 years.
Cooke says he was able to reach the victim, who wants to drop the charges. "She was surprised that it was still out there.," Cooke says. "And based on some of the contact that I've seen just at this case since it came to my attention, this really should have been handled back in 2011."
Cooke says his office is still working to resolve what says is a large back-log of cases. They resolved 22 percent more cases last year than the previous year.
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