Carjacking victim says tougher procedures needed after attacker's mistaken release

Victim says she feared perpetrator would come after her

When Amy Rowe was carjacked in the driveway of her Apopka home in 2017 by Cedric Gant and his fully-loaded AK-47, she had never been more terrified. Until Gant was mistakenly released from jail in April.

For three days, over Easter weekend, Gant was a free man.

A Brevard County judge sentenced Gant to time served for a misdemeanor warrant and released him.

The judge didn't know Gant had a federal hold on his record.

"They never contacted me, so I found out about this the Saturday after he released, because the other victim came to me," Rowe said. "I couldn't sleep. I was scared, I know my kids were scared. I was more anxious than I was this past year and a half because I didn't know if he was going to come after me."

Gant had been convicted in federal court of Rowe's carjacking and another armed carjacking and was headed to federal prison to serve a 23-year sentence.

But the paperwork that the Brevard County judge saw did not show a hold.

Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tod Goodyear said the Brevard County judge did not make a mistake.

"He [the judge] only handled the Brevard case that he [Gant] appeared on," Goodyear said. "The judge would have nothing to do with the Federal case. He is not at fault."

Goodyear said the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, is conducting a review.

The mistake was made by an employee at the Lake County Jail.

Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Herrell said the employee "misread" Gant's hold information and was suspended for one day without pay for the mistake.

The Lake County Jail employee received an email from a corrections release specialist at the Orange County Jail advising that Gant "has satisfied local charges and does not need to be returned to our agency" and to "release our holds only."

The specialist instructed Lake County that Gant "still does have holds for Lake County [carjacking] case #17CF002594."

Still, the Lake County Jail employee signed a hold order stating Gant was wanted by no other agencies.

"They could've emailed someone, they could have called someone, they could've called the marshal's office," Rowe said. "It only took another two minutes for somebody to say, listen, there are holds on this guy let me make sure I'm taking the right holds off. Because we double, triple check at my job. I don't understand why one person would be in charge of removing holds."

Rowe said there was no need for Gant to be transferred to Brevard County to answer for a misdemeanor warrant after he had been sentenced to federal prison for 23 years.

"There was an unneeded transition," Rowe said. "If he didn't need to go to Lake County or Brevard maybe this wouldn't have happened. That's one thing I don't understand. Why he needed to get rid of those charges to start his sentence."

Rowe said she's considering hiring a victims' rights attorney because she believes her rights as a victim were violated.

"I get it, I understand that it's a mistake, we all make mistakes and misread things," Rowe said. "But the fact that I was never contacted to say this guy's getting out. The fact that no one's ever called me to say we are so sorry."

Rowe wants jails to toughen their inmate transfer and release procedures.

"I want them to seriously look at what they're doing," Rowe said.  "This is holding a gun to somebody's face. Threatening their life. And taking their property. He was sentenced to 23 years at the beginning of February. At the end of February he was released because of a clerical error. That shouldn't have happened."

Gant was convicted of a carjacking in Eustis, carjacking Rowe in Apopka, and then running into a home to try and hide from police as they were chasing him.

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