World Roger Sweet, Who Killed His Wife and Raped Teen, Released Early From Prison Over COVID Risk
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A convicted murderer from Michigan has been released from prison seven years early, after arguing that he had an increased risk of contracting COVID if he stayed behind bars.
Roger Sweet, from the Detroit area, was convicted in 2008 of killing his first wife, Marleen Sweet, back in 1990.
Police say he is also a "person of interest" in the death of his second wife, Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet. Her remains were found in 2013, six years after she disappeared.
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The chief of police in Brownstown Township, Jeff Watson, said on Tuesday: "All along we believed we were looking at the right person [for the Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet death] … We're going to assign this to a new staff of detectives to get a fresh set of eyes on the case."
Although federal prosecutors fought to keep Sweet in prison, he was granted early release in a surprise ruling. Judge Victoria Roberts ordered his release even though Sweet has already received a dose of COVID vaccine.
"Without a single disciplinary action in 14 years of incarceration, Sweet's behavior demonstrates a respect for the law and indicates how he may perform on supervised release," Roberts said.
Chronic health conditions, including kidney disease, made him vulnerable, she added.
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In 2008, Sweet was convicted of the second-degree murder of Marleen Sweet, the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl and the sexual exploitation of children. He was handed a federal prison sentence of 21 years and had seven years left, prosecutors said this week.
The murder and sexual assault charges followed the disappearance of Sweet's second wife on January 8, 2007, after a fire at their home. Searches of the property in Brownstown Township, south of Detroit, uncovered child pornography on Sweet's computer and prompted the reopening of a homicide investigation into the death of his first wife.
In 2013, while Sweet was in prison, Lizzie Mae Collier-Sweet's remains were found in a secluded area within a mile from their former home.Investigators did not determine her cause of death, but police believe it was a homicide, according to Watson. No one has been charged.
Collier-Sweet wrote in a diary that she feared her husband and slept on a couch with a hammer and shotgun, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy in a court filing.
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"Nothing about Sweet's history and characteristics, which include rape, murder and the suspicious circumstances surrounding Lizzie Mae's death, support releasing him early," Mulcahy added.
As part of the terms of his release, Sweet will be confined to his home on electronic tether for a year—unless he is working or attending medical appointments, religious services or court-ordered obligations.
A study published in December by the Associated Press and the Marshall Project nonprofit found that one in five prisoners in the U.S. had contracted COVID-19, compared to one in 20 of the general U.S. population. More than 1,700 prisoners had died.
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