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Criminal catch and release -- how can a burglary suspect be cut loose?

Criminal catch and release -- how can a burglary suspect be cut loose?

CREATED Dec 5, 2012 - UPDATED: Dec 6, 2012

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It took a lot of time and teamwork to track this thief down -- and much of the credit goes to 9 On Your Side viewers.

We showed you home surveillance video of the duo about to rob a house. They check the joint out and even knock out the security camera.
 
Thanks to alert neighbors, both thugs were arrested -- but one is out of jail tonight.
 
31-year-old Christina Marie Paulson was in court Tuesday night to face burglary charges, but she didn't stay there long. A judge let her go -- trusting her to return.
 
But is that enough?
 
After weeks spent searching for their suspect, Pima County sheriff's deputies finally saw satisfaction.
 
"Okay, we've done our job well. We have identified the people correctly, and the evidence points to these folks, and here they are," said Deputy Tom Peine.
 
But that sense of satisfaction, and of security for the victims, didn't last long.
 
"You know, it's the process that we live in," Peine said.
 
Tuesday night, Paulson appeared in video court, charged with second degree burglary, theft of a mode of transportation and a list of lesser counts.
 
But to the judge, that wasn't enough to keep her locked up. She was released to pretrial services.
 
"How they make those decisions, that no longer is up to us," Peine said.  "That is something we have to leave to the courts."
 
"There is a variety of factors that judges look at," said Kellie Johnson, chief criminal deputy at the Pima County Attorney's office. "There's criminal history, there is the views of the victim, there's the nature of the offense."
 
Prosecutors say in short, it's the way our justice system works.
 
"People are entitled to release in most offenses, and so we can't guarantee that everybody that is released returns.  We often object and people are released.  There's no way to avoid it," she said.
 
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "Any idea how often it happens that they are released and they go missing?"
 
 "You know, it happens a lot obviously, but there are people, in fairness, who are released and do come back to court," Johnson said. 
 
And to the victims and viewers who worked together to bring Paulson in, both sides say please, don't lose heart.
 
"That's the most important thing," Peine said.  "We've been very happy this is working so successfully and more-so lately."
 
A plea to the public to continue the teamwork, that authorities say is keeping our streets safe, even amid an imperfect system.