Evan Spencer Ebel, the man suspected of killing Colorado’s prisons chief has been released from custody about four years early due to a clerical error, according to officials.
Ebel pleaded guilty in rural Fremont County to assaulting a prison guard in 2008. In a plea deal, he was to be sentenced to up to four additional years in prison, to be served after he completed the eight-year sentence that got him in prison in 2005, a statement from the 11th Judicial District said.
The judge however did not clarify how the sentence was to run; whether it was meant to be consecutive, or in addition to, Ebel’s current one. The court clerk recorded it as one to be served at the same time. That, according to the statement, was the information that went to the state prisons.
On January 28, prisons officials, following the records gotten from the court clerk, saw that Ebel had finished his court-ordered sentence and released him.
Ebel was however killed two months later, after a shootout with authorities in Texas, where it was discovered the gun he used was the same used to shoot and kill prisons chief Tom Clements two days earlier.
The court apologized in a statement signed by Charles Barton, chief judge of the 11th Judicial District, and court administrator Walter Blair.
“The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements,” the statement read in part.
The attack that led to the plea deal took place in 2006. According to prison and court records, Ebel slipped his handcuffs while being transferred from a cell and punched a prison guard in the nose, also threatening 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.