Crime - Sacto 911

He was sentenced for ramming cyclists. A clerical error let him roam free for a day, sheriff’s official says.

Alamar Houston
Alamar Houston California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A clerical error allowed an inmate serving a 35-year sentence to go free for a day in Sacramento before he was captured Wednesday night, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

The inmate, Alamar Cyril Houston, 40, is serving time for using a stolen vehicle to ram cyclists along South River Road near West Sacramento in 2015.

The mistaken release stemmed from Houston’s transfer to the Sacramento County Main Jail from Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy. A month ago, he was sent to Sacramento in preparation for a court proceeding that occurred Tuesday in a separate case of receiving stolen property and vehicle theft, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull.

During the intake and booking process last month, clerical staff failed to flag Houston as an inmate who needed to return to the Tracy prison facility after his hearing, Turnbull said. When Houston’s charges in the Tuesday case were dismissed, jail staff had him collect his belongings and set him free.

Officials discovered Wednesday during a routine review that they made a mistake when Houston’s prison sentence showed up in his file. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notified the public shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday that Houston was on the loose.

He was found at 10:50 p.m. Wednesday, according to Turnbull.

Houston was located less than a mile from the I Street jail Wednesday afternoon, in the 1100 block of C Street in Sacramento, CDCR spokeswoman Krissi Khokhobashvili said. He was walking down the street and wasn’t stopped at a “specific location or residence” when authorities found him.

“This is considered an escape or what’s called a walk away,” she said. “We do a thorough investigation into what happened.”

Houston was returned early Thursday to Deuel Vocational Institute to resume his 35-year sentence for multiple felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, hit-and-run causing injury and reckless evasion from law enforcement officers.

Prosecutors said Houston used a stolen vehicle to knock over a bicyclist and later rammed the car into two teenagers also on bikes along South River Road near West Sacramento during a June 2015 drug-induced driving spree. One of the teens, Taariq Jensen, was critically injured. Houston was sentenced in January.

Land Park resident Donald Dumaine, the cyclist initially knocked over in 2015, said he found out about Houston’s release Wednesday afternoon as he was riding his bicycle about a mile away from where the collision happened. The amateur rider received a text from his wife that a reporter had contacted them with news that Houston had been accidentally released.

“It was pretty shocking,” he said. “You just can’t make a mistake for a guy like that. This is a Charles Manson-esque type of person out on the street.”

Agents from CDCR’s Special Services Unit and the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit located Houston on Wednesday and transported him back to the Tracy facility, Khokhobashvili said. Both agencies will conduct an investigation into the clerical error and the subsequent escape.

Turnbull declined to comment on whether any department employees faced disciplinary action in connection to the release, saying he could not discuss personnel issues.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office can decide whether to file criminal escape charges against Houston, Khokhobashvili said.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets

Related stories from Sacramento Bee