Evan Ebel prison assault sentence 'illegal'

8:38 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - 9Wants to Know has learned that more government workers could have caught the error that let double murder suspect Evan Ebel out of prison four years early.

Investigators think Ebel killed father-of-three Nate Leon and the head of Colorado's prison system, Tom Clements.

A Fremont County judge gave Ebel four years in 2008 for assaulting a corrections officer. The judge mistakenly didn't say whether the time was supposed to be served at the same time as his current sentence, or if the four years were in addition to the time he got for stealing a car and for burglary.

The Department of Corrections didn't call for clarification. The department interpreted the sentence to mean concurrent, or at the same time.

The law requires judges to tack on additional years for inmates who assault corrections officers. The law specifically says sentences "shall run consecutively with any sentences being served by the offender."

The court has already admitted the judge and clerk made an error. Some think the DOC should have also caught the error, especially since they often catch mistakes judges make.

Two attorneys told 9Wants to Know they have seen judges sentence someone to not enough years on parole, and the DOC asks the judge to adjust the sentence.

9NEWS Legal analyst Scott Robinson says since Ebel's sentence was what's called an "illegal sentence," he says several people should have caught the problem.

The DOC disagrees that it should have done something differently. It says it goes by what the judge orders.

Sometimes mistakes are caught by the DOC but a spokeswoman says that happens when the sentencing laws have recently changed.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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