DENVER (AP) – Colorado judges have corrected the sentences of 124 inmates or parolees after one ex-prisoner was inadvertently released early and was then allegedly involved in the slaying of the state prisons chief.
Officials released interim results Thursday of a massive audit of sentences prompted by the March slaying of Department of Corrections director Tom Clements.
The lone suspect in Clements’ death, 28-year-old Evan Ebel, had been released from prison in January – four years earlier than authorities intended – because of a paperwork error.
Ebel is also a suspect in the shooting death of Nathan Leon, who was killed while delivering pizzas – a second job he took to help support his wife and three children.
Ebel was killed in a shootout in Texas days after Clements was killed.
Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the audit of the files of all inmates whose sentencing records might contain errors similar to the one in Ebel’s case. The Department of Corrections said Thursday that it has so far identified 1,211 with possibly confusing or erroneous sentencing orders.
Judges have reviewed nearly 700 sentencing orders so far and corrected the orders for 124 offenders. They’ve found that 565 of the sentencing orders were correct.
State judiciary spokesman Robert McCallum said officials have not yet reviewed the corrected sentencing orders and don’t know the nature or scale of the errors.
Officials will review individual cases to determine whether someone who was released early should be returned to prison, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said.
The Department of Corrections said it still has to review 972 files to determine if their sentencing orders are confusing or have possible errors and should be reviewed by a judge.
Ebel was supposed to serve eight- and four-year sentences consecutively after accepting a plea deal for assaulting a prison officer. But the judge who approved the plea deal failed to say that the terms were consecutive, so a court clerk recorded that they were to be served concurrently, or at the same time, officials said.
That was the information that went to the state prisons, officials said, so Ebel was freed in January without serving the additional four years.
Leon, 27, was found dead in the west Denver area on March 17. Clements, 58, was shot and killed on March 19 after answering the door at his home in Monument, north of Colorado Springs.
Ebel was fatally wounded in a shootout with authorities in Decatur, Texas, on March 21. Authorities say he had the gun that killed Clements.
Montague County sheriff’s Deputy James Boyd was wounded in the shootout but recovered.
By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press
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