Woman jailed for 12 days for sharing name with suspect - WSMV News 4

Woman jailed for 12 days for sharing name with suspect

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JoAnn Luna (L) spent 12 days in jail after being mistaken for a woman with the same name. (WSMV) JoAnn Luna (L) spent 12 days in jail after being mistaken for a woman with the same name. (WSMV)

After 12 days of being behind bars in the White County Jail, JoAnn Luna was brought to the sheriff.

“He said, ‘There’s been a mistake,’” Luna recalled.

It all started to make sense for Luna; why, earlier that day, she appeared in court with all the other people charged with crimes, and the bailiff read her name and then  gave her a strange look.

"He said, ‘Well that's funny, that's her name.’ And he points at the girl behind me,” Luna said.

Sitting directly behind JoAnn Luna, was another JoAnn Luna.

No one realized that both women had been arrested on warrants for theft and for failure to appear.

"My whole family is trying to figure it out. They called the justice center - and all they'll say is we can't tell you anything,” Luna said.

Luna is the latest person the Channel 4 I-Team found arrested, charged and jailed, just for having the same name as a suspect.

Click here to watch the I-Team’s first investigation.

As soon as Sheriff Oddie Shoupe of White County realized the mistake, he released Luna immediately.

"Obviously, some kind of mistake was made by somebody. How much responsibility falls to your department?” asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

“None. We picked up the subject at the address on the warrant and arrested her - she said nothing at the time of the arrest,” Shoupe said.

"He (Sheriff Shoupe) indicated you never told anyone that they had the wrong person. Is that true?" Finley asked.

"Oh, I told everybody I walked into and talked to. I told everybody - every correctional officer - they said everybody says they're innocent, they kept saying,” Luna said.

Luna sued the sheriff, but the court of appeals ultimately dismissed the suit, stating that the sheriff’s office was merely executing a valid bench warrant and the sheriff had zero interactions with Luna prior to the mix-up.

"I don't see how you could put the wrong person in jail and get away with it,” Luna said.

Luna’s attorney, Richard Brooks, is now suing two other police departments, accusing them of wrongfully arresting a Shelbyville man for sharing the same name with a suspect. He asked law enforcement in a deposition for clarity.

"Tell me how I can tell the citizenry to avoid this. There was to be some way to avoid this. They couldn't think of any way you could,” Brook said.

But two lawmakers, Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Sen. Sara Kyle, feel something has to be done. Last month they successfully passed a bill into law that reads if the court confirms a person was arrested or charged due to mistaken identity, their record will be expunged on the state’s dime.

Click here to read the bill.

"It's a mistake and you want to restore the person and make them whole,” Kyle said.

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