A repeat felon arrested after an armed robbery was released without charges this week because Phoenix Police didn't get the necessary paperwork filed on time.
The suspect is 20-year-old Jose Daniel Morales, whose criminal history includes multiple felonies and a previous armed robbery.
Morales was arrested after he and two accomplices were involved in the March 24 armed robbery of a west Phoenix food truck, records show. After the robbery, the suspects crashed their getaway vehicle into another car.
The driver of the other car was seriously injured. The crash broke her neck, records show.
Morales and another suspect were booked into jail and had an initial appearance before a judge. But charges against Morales were dropped and he was released on April 1, records show.
The other suspect, a 16-year-old, was officially charged and a case was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Court records detailing the armed robbery are below.
Sources tell ABC15 the necessary paperwork for Morales was filed but not properly routed in the Phoenix Police Department’s new record management system. The mix-up mean prosecutors weren’t forwarded the case and couldn’t file official charges before the required deadline after a suspect’s initial appearance.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office confirmed they didn’t receive the case until April 5th. A spokesman said it is now under review.
POLICE RECORD-KEEPING GLITCH?
After a complete overhaul, Phoenix Police launched a new record management system, or RMS, in October. Since, the department has experienced a long list of problems: backlogs, other released suspects, outages, and more missing reports.
In December, ABC15 uncovered that 1,600 incident reports were never properly routed, leaving them to essentially float in the system for weeks.
Other major police departments who have installed the same RMS have reported issues with reports that have gone missing.
In the Morales arrest, sources said the paperwork was filed but it never made it to Phoenix Police’s court liaisons, who are responsible for forwarding cases to county prosecutors.
In a statement, a police spokesman didn’t specifically address what happened with the paperwork but issued the following statement:
"The Phoenix Police Department record management system does not set, schedule or track court dockets. Police employees, specifically case agents, court liaison staff and jail personnel oversee this complex processes. Several factors, including the complexity of an investigation, lengthy interviews and required follow-up work by detectives, can influence our ability to get a suspect and related paperwork in front of a judge within the time required. As you know, from your last story we are writing thousands of reports and making literally thousands of arrest with the new system. We will continue to learn, change and improve."
PREVIOUS CRIMINAL HISTORY
At just 20 years old, Morales has already racked up a serious criminal history.
He was previously convicted for his involvement in a violent home invasion in 2012. In that case, Morales and two other men forced into a woman’s home and held her at gunpoint while they ransacked the house and stole several items. During the robbery, one of the suspects (not Morales) raped the victim and then duct taped her to a chair.
READ ABOUT THE 2012 HOME INVASION BELOW (warning graphic content):
While serving time for the 2012 home invasion, Morales was convicted in a 2010 residential burglary. DNA evidence from the earlier crime was eventually tested and linked to Morales.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.