(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- A Texas man is enjoying his freedom after enduring a case of mistaken identity that landed him in jail for more than a week accused of murder.
On March 1, an Arlington, Texas police officer stopped a car for the innocuous offence of an expired inspection sticker. Behind the wheel was Francisco Daniel Romero -- born on Oct. 4, 1969.
When the officer ran a standard background check, a decade-old murder warrant surfaced -- only it was for a completely different man.
More than 11 years ago, the Dallas Police Department issued a warrant for the arrest of murder suspect Francisco Javier Ortiz Romero, also born on Oct. 4, 1969. This Romero is accused of shooting his wife's boyfriend in his car from his own vehicle after a verbal confrontation before fleeing the scene.
Even though the arresting officer in Arlington noted the differing middle names in his report, Francisco Daniel Romero was locked up for nine days for the other man's alleged crime.
Arlington Police asked their Dallas counterparts for additional information, such as fingerprints and photographs for the wanted man, but were told there was not any evidence to pass along, Arlington Police Department spokeswoman Tiara Richard said. So the Arlington Police falsely confirmed the warrant and turned over Francisco Daniel Romero to the Dallas County Jail, despite Romero's continued claim that he wasn't the wanted man.
The Arlington Police Department never tried to communicate with the homicide detective assigned to the murder case, Romero's attorney, Ramon Rincon, said, claiming he made the initial inquiries about a possible mix-up. When the case file was opened, a mug shot of the wanted Romero clearly showed the incarcerated man was not the right Francisco Romero.
A Dallas homicide detective then approached an eyewitness to the crime, Francisco Javier Ortiz Romero's former wife Sandra. She looked at Francisco Daniel Romero's prison photograph and immediately told investigators that they had the wrong Romero. The man behind bars was not her wanted ex-husband.
Dallas Deputy Police Chief Craig Miller said his department made every effort to resolve the situation as soon as it was notified by Romero's attorney.
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