"Every day, it's been getting worse...every day, I find something new out."
A devastated and outraged Katherine Leon struggled to keep her composure as she described the horror of discovering her husband's alleged killer should have been incarcerated at the time of his murder.
The Colorado court system admitted Monday that an error led to the release of Evan Ebel about four years early.
Ebel is suspected of killing pizza delivery man Nathan Leon on March 17, and then Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements two days later. Authorities are investigating the possibility Ebel might have killed Nathan for his uniform in order to more easily lure Clements to his door.
Ebel was supposed to get four additional years tacked on to the end of prison sentence for assaulting a prison guard, but the court order failed to specify that. When court orders don't specify whether sentences are to run consecutively or concurrently, the DOC is mandated to calculate the sentence be served concurrently.
Had the court order made clear that the four additional years were to be served after Ebel finished his original sentence, Ebel would still be in prison today.
Instead, Ebel was released at the beginning of this year.
The 11th Judicial District out of Fremont County issued a statement regarding the error, including within it condolences to the families of Clements and Leon. Leon's widow said the statement gave no solace.
"I mean, how do you tell your 4-year-old daughters that...and have to go on the rest of your life knowing this could have been prevented if somebody would've done their job and stood up and went through the paperwork before they ever released this monster into society," the mother of three young girls told reporters.
"A clerical error isn't going to bring my husband back....it's not going to bring Tom Clements back, not going to bring my children's father back."
Clements' family has not issued a statement at this time.
This afternoon, the 11th Judicial District released the following statement to media:
The district court, in response to media inquiry, has reviewed the record in Fremont County case number 07CR105, People of the State of Colorado v. Evan Ebel. This response is from the district administrator and the chief judge. A judge of the district does not comment directly on his own cases. A transcript of the proceedings can be ordered through the Office of the Clerk of Court, Deborah Sather-Stringari at (719) 269-0100 or the state court website which can be found at www.courts.state.co.us, go to courts on the menu, select court by county, choose Fremont and follow instructions for Research Form and/or Transcript Form.
On April 9, 2008 defendant Evan Ebel entered into a written plea agreement. It stated that the district attorney and the defendant agreed that the defendant would plead guilty to Assault in the Second Degree and the court would impose a consecutive sentence of up to four years in the Department of Corrections, plus a mandatory three years of parole.
A sentencing hearing was held on June 11, 2008. The judge announced a sentence of four years in the Department of Corrections but did not state it was consecutive because it was already required by the terms of the plea agreement. Because the judge did not expressly state that the sentence was consecutive, the court judicial assistant did not include that term in the mittimus, the sentence order that went to the Department of Corrections.
The district has undertaken a review of its practices in an effort to avoid a re-occurrence of this circumstance.
The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements.