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Prosecutor: Man mistakenly released from jail punched girlfriend, burned her with cigarette

Steven Derkits

Steven Derkits

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Updated: September 24, 2013 6:28AM



A South Side man who was mistakenly released from Cook County jail last month burned his girlfriend with a cigarette and punched and choked her in a pair of drunken attacks when he should have been behind bars, prosecutors said Thursday.

Steven Derkits brutally beat the woman — who had previously taken out an order of protection against him — at her residence and a bar during his inadvertent weeks of freedom, Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti said.

On Aug. 17, Derkits, who dated the woman for roughly three years, punched her in the face because he believed she was cheating on him, Antonietti said.

He then allegedly swung at a bat at his girlfriend, damaging the bedroom ceiling.

After, Derkits, 30, of the 4400 block of South Talman, lit a cigarette and burned the woman in four places on the face and neck, Antonietti said. He then choked her and told her he’d kill her, Antonietti said.

The woman, who became unconsciousness, tried to escape when she woke up but Derkits wouldn’t let her leave, Antonietti said.

“She was afraid for her life” and was afraid of leaving the apartment and calling the police, the prosecutor said.

As a result of the attack, the woman suffered a black eye, cigarette burns and broken blood vessels.

Derkits repeatedly punched the woman in the face again three days later outside a bar in the 4600 block of South Sacramento, Antonietti said.

That attack prompted the woman to call police.

Derkits fled before police arrived, according to authorities.

But he was arrested later that day after police located him at his girlfriend’s home where he had locked himself in the bathroom and was lying on the ground, Antonietti said.

Derkits, who was wearing a green hospital shirt and jeans in court Thursday, allegedly resisted arrest and had to be subdued with a stun gun.

Derkits was originally arrested July 9 in the city, stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, according to Cook County sheriff’s spokesman Ben Breit.

A few weeks later on July 30, prosecutors dropped some of the charges in the domestic violence case. He was released from jail the same day — something that went undetected by authorities until this week.

On Tuesday — the day of his recent arrest — the sheriff’s office realized they had released Derkits by mistake when he was a no-show in court, and prosecutors wanted to know where he’d gone.

“That’s when everyone realized a mistake had been made, at which point our central intelligence unit and our central warrant unit worked together to apprehend him,” Breit said.

Apparently, a Cook County sheriff’s employee or employees at the time mistakenly believed all charges had been dropped and released Derkits from jail the same day.

“Obviously a serious mistake was made,” Breit said.

An assistant public defender Thursday pointed out that it wasn’t Derkits fault that he was released.

“Who knows why some inmates are released,” the defense attorney said.

Judge Laura Sullivan ordered Derkits held without bail for violating condition of his bond and the order of protection.

Derkits, who works for a plumbing company, was also charged with aggravated domestic battery and domestic battery.

Derkits has previous felony convictions for aggravated battery with a weapon and retail theft. He also has misdemeanor convictions for aggravated assault, domestic battery and retail theft and was arrested five times for domestic battery, Antonietti said.

This is the second time this year a detainee was mistakenly released.

In January, a man convicted of murder had been mistakenly released from the jail, but was apprehended days later in Kankakee, officials said. Sheriff Tom Dart at the time said he believed a paperwork problem was to blame.

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

Email: rhussain@suntimes.com

Twitter: @rummanahussain



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