MERCED (AP) — A teenager spent the night at a central California jail after he was arrested on a warrant for a murder charge a judge had cleared him of months earlier.
Merced County Sheriff’s officials acknowledged Sunday that Jacob Tellez, 19, should not have been arrested and vowed to determine what went wrong.
“I will say this: It should not have happened,” Sheriff Vern Warnke told the Merced Sun-Star. “I will get to the bottom of this.”
Tellez’s attorney, Adam Stewart, said the timing of Tellez’s arrest just two days after he filed a claim for damages against Merced County alleging civil rights violations was suspicious.
“We don’t have enough evidence to say conclusively, but it’s not like we can just dismiss this as some kind of clerical error coming two days after he seeks a government claim for damages,” Stewart said.
A judge last year cleared Tellez and co-defendant Ethan Morse of murder in the 2013 slaying of Bernabed Hernandez-Canela. Morse is the son of Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II.
The warrant seeking Tellez’s arrest appears not to have been properly cleared from a law enforcement database before Atwater police stopped him Friday night for an alleged traffic violation, officials told the Sun-Star.
Tellez said he was soon surrounded by officers with their guns drawn. He described his night in jail as stressful.