DENVER (CBS4) — Gov. Jared Polis announced pardons for five people and commutations for three others on Monday — including Erik Jensen. Jensen was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1998 death of Julie Ybanez of Highlands Ranch. Jensen said he helped his friend, Nathan Ybanez, clean up the crime scene after Ybanez killed his mother.
Ybanez claimed he was being abused. Jensen said he did not participate in the killing but he was convicted of murder under the state’s complicity theory. Jensen was 17 at the time of the crime and Ybanez was 16.READ MORE: Jeffco Public Schools Aims To Offer Flexibility With Remote Learning Next Fall
In 1999, Jensen was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for criminal conspiracy to first degree murder, 24 years for first degree murder and six years for criminal accessory to first degree murder. Then in 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles are unconstitutional.
In 2019, Jensen was re-sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
“Erik went in when he was a juvenile,” said Curtis Jensen, Erik’s father. “He has served 5 more years in prison than he was alive before he got into prison.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper commuted the sentence of Ybanez, the man who actually committed the murder, but did not commute Jensen’s sentence. Ybanez could be released in 2020.
While in prison, Jensen got his G.E.D. and an associates degree. He also started a CrossFit program for inmates to help combat addiction. He is considered a model prisoner.READ MORE: COVID In Aurora: Signs For Vaccine Become Sticking Point Between Clinic & City
“I think that a lot of them, like Erik and the people that he works with in there, should be given a second chance,” said Curtis Jensen. “They should be given a second look.”
The commutation issued by Gov. Polis means Jensen will now be released in a matter of weeks.
“The commutations announced today include immediate parole eligibility and mandatory parole on March 1, 2020,” the governor’s office stated.
“Clemencies are a tremendous responsibility given to a governor that can change a person’s life,” said Gov. Polis. “These decisions were not taken lightly and were made after careful consideration of each individual case. These are people looking for a second chance and the opportunity to move beyond the mistakes from their past. They have taken important steps to turn their lives around and shown remorse for their actions.”
The governor also granted commutations for two other individuals: William Hoover Jr., and Abron Arrington.
Pardons were also granted to Ingrid LaTorre, Eric Edelstein, John Furniss, Brandon Burke, and Jamie Matthews.
“The pardons restore rights and remove limitations that result from criminal convictions.”MORE NEWS: Douglas County Schools To Bring Middle & High School Students Back After Spring Break
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)