Officials said Monday that a clerical error allowed the man suspected of killing Colorado's prisons chief to be released from custody about four years too early, the Associated Press is reporting.
Evan Spencer Ebel, a 28-year-old inmate serving an eight-year sentence for a previous crime, pleaded guilty to assaulting a prison guard in Fremont County in 2008. It was apparently unclear, however, whether his sentence was meant to be served consecutively or concurrently, according to the report. So, the court clerk recorded it as one to be served "concurrently," or at the same time, and that information was sent to the state prisons.
The error saw Ebel released on Jan. 28, when it appeared he had served his court-appointed sentence.
Ebel was dead two months later after a shootout with police, and the gun he used was tied to the killing of prisons chief Tom Clements in his home two days earlier. Police believe Ebel also was involved in the death of a Domino's delivery man, Nathan Leon, in Denver.
The AP continues:
""The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements," said a statement signed by Charles Barton, chief judge of the 11th Judicial District, and court administrator Walter Blair.
Corrections officials said they had not calculated precisely the number of days Ebel would have remained behind bars had the sentence been consecutive. They said they had no way of knowing the plea deal was intended to keep Ebel behind bars for years longer."
Another twist in this case is that investigators have also been pursuing links between the killing of Clements and Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney in Kaufman County, Texas, in January.
On Saturday, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia Woodward McLelland, were also found dead, shot at their home in Forney, Texas.
While investigators aren't certain that any of these killings are related, authorities remain on high alert in Texas and as one local TV station reported, "prosecutors across the state have been warned to be on guard."