ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A man being held in New Mexico for extradition to Georgia in a murder case was released two months ago, and Georgia police just found out this week.
Donald Singer, a well-liked family man, was found dead and wrapped in blankets in his garage in Duluth, Ga., in late March. His car, a 1988 Porsche, was missing.
Singer's Porsche was found in early April in a parking lot at San Felipe Casino in Robert Craig Sandman's possession.
But it wasn't the Porsche that caught the attention of Sandoval County sheriff's deputies. Sandman was allegedly bothering people in the parking lot.
Deputies quickly found out Sandman had a warrant out of Georgia as a person of interest in Singer's murder. Duluth police planned to extradite Sandman back to Georgia for questioning, and an extradition hearing was held in Sandoval County on April 19.
However, according to a court order dated May 13, District Judge George Eichwald, who currently is presiding over the Levi Chavez murder trial, released Sandman. The order said the state of Georgia failed to organize the extradition within 20 days of the April hearing.
Duluth police said they were never notified Sandman was ready for transfer, and they just found out July 10 Sandman was no longer in jail. Police notified Singer's family the next day.
"It was just a phone call that said, 'We have some bad news. Robert Craig Sandman was released from New Mexico jail,'" Christina Torres Cappello, Singer's niece, told KRQE News 13 in a phone interview Friday. "It's tough on everybody. It's tough on the brothers and the sisters. It's tough on his children."
Cappello told News 13 she was hoping for answers in her uncle's murder. Now she just has more questions.
"I'm still in shock that something like that can happen," Cappello said of Sandman's release.
It appears Georgia officials didn't follow through with the extradition process because of a paperwork mix-up and a lack of communication in New Mexico and Georgia.
Duluth police said Sandman faces theft charges for allegedly taking Singer's car.
Sandman previously spent nine years in a New Mexico prison for the 1992 murder of his wife in Carlsbad.
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