Inmate Mistakenly Released, Caught After Apology to Victim

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HOUSTON — A prison inmate mistakenly released early was re-arrested after approaching the victim in a bar and apologizing for shooting him in the head.

Willie Joe McAdams was sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but because of a clerical error, he was released May 4 after just four years, said Michelle Lyons, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman.

His victim, Cedric Thomas, was stunned when McAdams approached him in a bar during the July 4 weekend. McAdams shook Thomas' hand and apologized.

"What if he still had malice in his heart and wanted to kill me?" said Thomas, who lost an eye in the March 2003 sports bar shooting.

McAdams was re-arrested on Thursday.

Lyons said the mistake occurred while McAdams' personal information was being keyed in during his 2004 transfer to the prison system, and such clerical errors are rare.

"We let out hundreds of inmates a day," Lyons said in a report that appeared in Friday's Houston Chronicle. "It usually goes off without a hitch."

Harris County District Attorney investigator Johnny Bonds said someone within the prison system wrote "4" instead of "40" years for McAdams' sentence, so he was discharged without even being put on parole.

"Somebody dropped the ball, that's for sure," Bonds said.

An internal affairs investigation at TDCJ has been launched.