LA County Sheriff's Department Asks For Help Finding Released Murder Suspect

Before his release, the inmate was charged with the murder of a father of three on Christmas Eve 2010.

By Toni Guinyard and Brandon Lowrey
|  Tuesday, May 7, 2013  |  Updated 8:24 PM PDT
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Sheriff's officials on Tuesday renewed their call on the public to help find a murder suspect accidentally released from jail. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on May 7, 2013.

Sheriff's officials on Tuesday renewed their call on the public to help find a murder suspect accidentally released from jail. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on May 7, 2013.

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Sheriff's officials released few new details Tuesday about how they mistakenly released a murder suspect from jail, and they renewed their call on the public to help find him.

Johnny Mata, 32, was released from jail April 4 due to a clerical error, after he had been charged with the Christmas Eve 2010 murder of a father of three. Mata had been in jail since his arrest last year for an unrelated assault in Baldwin Park, sheriff's officials said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not announce the accidental release until a month later. Detectives had exhausted all leads in the case, sheriff's Lt. Steve Jauch told reporters Tuesday. Mata has ties to the El Monte and San Gabriel Valley areas, he said.

A processing clerk failed to put a hold on Mata's record after the inmate was charged with murder. An investigation into the accidental release was underway, sheriff's officials said.

A staffing shortage contributed to the mistake, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. The processing unit had 40 unfilled positions because of budget cuts, and after Mata's release, Baca authorized the filling of those positions, Whitmore said.

In addition, sheriff's officials are putting "new layers" of protection to prevent future accidental releases, he said.

Mata is accused in the Dec. 24, 2010 slaying of David DeAnda, who was standing with two others in a driveway when a man came up and shot him several times.

Mata was arrested May 25, 2012 by the El Monte Police Department. His last court date was listed as April 3 -- the day before his accidental release.

Mata was described as a Latino man, 6 feet, 1 inch tall, 197 pounds.

Anyone with information about Mata's whereabouts can call sheriff’s homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500. Anonymous tipsters call LA Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or going to lacrimestoppers.org

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