Public help sought in locating released murder suspect


Johnny Mata, 32, is charged with murder in the 2010 shooting death of 34-year-old David DeAnda in Baldwin Park. Mata was behind bars until he was mistakenly released from jail just over a month ago.

L.A. County Sheriff's Captain Chuck Antuna oversees the Inmate Reception Center (IRC) for the L.A. County Jail, the largest jail system in the country. Antuna says Mata was freed due to a clerical error. He says paperwork to hold Mata on murder charges came in and sat on a desk.

"It was not updated. It was inadvertently left on a desk and it was not updated into the system and due to that mistake inmate Mata was released," said Antuna.

Antuna says they have a backlog of inmate paperwork to comb through daily. He says when initial murder charges that landed Mata in jail were dropped, the suspect was simply released before the murder charge in a different case, the DeAnda homicide, was processed in the system. Antuna says Mata is one of the most high-profile violent inmates mistakenly released from the jail system.

"If you look at the last past 12 months we have processed over 150,000 inmates," said Antuna. "However, during that time we have made seven such mistakes wherein individuals were released in error. Mata would be our eighth. All seven inmates of the prior erroneous releases or mistakes were all captured immediately. Our concern here is that Mata has not been recaptured," said Antuna.

Homicide detectives are asking for the public's help catching Mata.

"We know he hails from the San Gabriel Valley but he could be any number of places so anybody that has any information, we'd like them to contact us," said L.A. County Sheriff Lt. Steve Jauch.

Antuna says new measures are being put in place to prevent inmates like Mata from mistakenly being released from jail. He says that includes hiring more staff and retraining some workers.

Law enforcement throughout Los Angeles County is actively searching for Mata. He is described as a Hispanic male with brown hair, brown eyes, 6 feet 1 inch tall and 197 pounds.

Anyone with information on Mata's whereabouts is asked to call Sheriff's Homicide Detectives at (323) 890-5500, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

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