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Audit sparked by 9Wants To Know investigation reveals hundreds of prison-sentencing errors

8:08 PM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - The number of prisoner-sentencing errors discovered in an audit following a 9Wants to Know investigation has grown from the last count of 129 to 276, according to the newest numbers from the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Colorado Judicial Department.

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The numbers reflect the latest data from an ongoing audit being conducted after 9Wants to Know discovered the chief suspect in the murder of Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements was released from prison four years too early due to a court error.

Seven weeks after Evan Ebel was released, police say he murdered father-of-three Nate Leon on March 17 as he worked a pizza-delivery job to earn extra money for his family and Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements on March 19.

The Department of Corrections has finished its review of prison sentences and has sent cases where staff has discovered there could be a problem to the Judicial Department.

The state court system has reviewed 1,514 cases and of those found the 276 errors. Those errors impacted 267 offenders because some offenders had more than one order, a Department of Corrections news release states.

The state court system still has 551 case files to review.

This audit is different from the review currently reviewing looking at parole operations within the Department of Corrections.

Ebel started serving an eight-year prison sentence in 2005 after pistol whipping a man, stealing a car and breaking into a home.

While in prison, Ebel punched a guard in the face.

In a plea agreement, he accepted a four-year sentence to be served consecutively to his other prison time, but at sentencing, a judge failed to say whether the new sentence was to be served consecutively or concurrently.

State-case law at the time required the Department of Corrections to interpret a sentence that doesn't specify concurrent or consecutive, to be considered a concurrent sentence.

Ebel was released Jan. 28 on parole without ever serving time for assaulting the corrections officer.

Ebel removed his ankle monitor before the murders but it took parole staff five days before anyone checked on him.

News of that information sparked the parole system audit. The head of the parole department has also been replaced.

The investigation into the Leon and Clements murders are still ongoing.

Leon's family members say Leon was shot multiple times in the chest as he was delivering a pizza ordered from a payphone.

Clements was shot in the doorway of his home near Monument two days later.

Ebel died in a police shootout in Texas on March 21.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Call him at 303-871-1432 or e-mail him

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