SWAT recaptures DeKalb inmate released in error

After a three-hour SWAT standoff Friday night, authorities recaptured a DeKalb County inmate who mistakenly had been released after being sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Joel Ledarius Harper, 22, was convicted of two counts of armed robbery and one count of aggravated assault in August. He was released from the DeKalb County Jail on Nov. 21 due to an administrative error, Sgt. Adrion Bell said in a news release Friday.

Information led Fugitive Squad investigators to Harper’s family home on Cedar Rock Drive in Lithonia, and undercover surveillance was set up around 5 p.m., Bell said. Authorities later determined that Harper was inside the home with his 4-year-old daughter.

After negotiations to get Harper to surrender failed, SWAT entered the house and found him hiding in a bedroom closet, Bell said. His daughter was in an upstairs bedroom unharmed and was returned to family members.

Harper was transported back to the DeKalb County Jail.

Jail officials realized that Harper had been released in error after a records audit and immediately turned the information over so he could be returned to jail, Bell said.

Sheriff Thomas E. Brown said the errors that led to the accidental release are being corrected.

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