Panola County Sheriff explains inmate's accidental release - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Panola County Sheriff explains inmate's accidental release

(WMC-TV) - A suspect that led U.S. Marshal's on a wild chase Thursday was facing a number of charges in north Mississippi counties.

Billy Wheater was accidentally released from the Panola County jail in November. Sheriff Dennis Darby said the error occurred after a breakdown in communication between the jails during transfers.

"He was released on a bond when he should have been held," Darby said.

Wheater was a state prisoner with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Darby told us his department had no idea Wheater was not to be released on bond.

"He was released on felony shoplifting, he was considered low risk but after researching we found out that he was supposed to have stayed in here for the department of corrections," Darby said.

Darby said one of the counties that transferred Wheater failed to note that he was a state prisoner. He said they realized something was wrong when Wheater didn't show up for his court appearance.

"After not reporting back, marshals from our state went to Memphis, on March 1, which was yesterday, and after a high speed chase, located Mr. Wheater," Darby said.

On Thursday, authorities told Action News 5 that charges against Wheater included assaulting a police officer, grand larceny, and felony shoplifting.

Wheater is currently being held in Memphis but will eventually be moved.

"He'll be transported at a later date by the department of corrections," Darby said.

Wheater was reportedly serving 15 years for various charges.

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