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Error led to release of prison chief slaying suspect 4 years early

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DENVER — A clerical error allowed the man suspected of killing Colorado’s prisons chief to be released from custody about four years early, officials said Monday.

Ebel  Uncredited

In 2008, Evan Spencer Ebel pleaded guilty in rural Fre­mont County to assaulting a prison guard. In a plea deal, Ebel was to be sentenced to up to four additional years in prison, to be served after he completed the eight-year sentence that put him behind bars in 2005, according to a statement from the 11th Judicial District.

The judge did not say, however, whether the sentence was meant to be “consecutive,” or in addition to, Ebel’s current one. So the court clerk recorded it as one to be served “concurrently,” or at the same time. That’s the information that went to the state prisons, the statement said.

So on Jan. 28, prisons officials saw that Ebel had finished his court-ordered sentence and released him.

Two months later he was dead after a shootout with authorities in Texas. The gun he used was the same used to shoot and kill prisons chief Tom Clements two days earlier. Police believe Ebel also was involved in the death of a Domino’s delivery man, Nathan Leon, in Denver.

“The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements,” said a statement signed by Charles Barton, the chief judge of the 11th Judicial District, and court administrator Walter Blair.

Corrections officials said they had not calculated precisely the number of days Ebel would have remained behind bars had the sentence been consecutive. They said they had no way of knowing the plea deal was intended to keep Ebel behind bars for years longer.

The attack that led to the plea deal took place in 2006. According to prison and court records, Ebel slipped from his handcuffs while being transferred from a cell and punched a prison guard in the nose and threatened to kill the guard’s family.

Ebel spent much of his time behind bars in solitary confinement and had a long record of disciplinary violations.

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AutumnLeaves 04/02/13 - 05:02 pm
It's a bit disconcerting to

It's a bit disconcerting to find someone who is supposed to be in jail for 8 years, two years later standing behind you in the bank, another just a few feet away at the post office. Talk about double takes. I couldn't believe my eyes. I looked their records up and sure enough, they had been released early. Downright dangerous to find out that way.

itsanotherday1 04/02/13 - 07:45 pm
"Ebel spent much of his time

"Ebel spent much of his time behind bars in solitary confinement and had a long record of disciplinary violations."

This is where the system fails. Misbehavior in prison should be a crime in and of itself; which would allow for the extended incarceration of a prisoner if they prove incorrgible.

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