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DENVER — Evan Spencer Ebel, the man suspected in a crime spree that included the murders of Colorado Department of Corrections head Tom Clements and Denver pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon, was released up to four years early due to a clerical error by Fremont County courts, a review of case records has found.

The 11th Judicial District issued a statement Monday acknowledging the communication error.

Just hours after Fremont County officials admitted the mistake, the family of one of his victims shared their outrage publicly.

“This could have been prevented if someone had done their job,” said Katie Leon, the wife of murdered Domino’s delivery driver Nathan Leon. Leon, whose body was found in Golden on March 17th, has left behind three small children.

“How do I tell my four-year-olds that Daddy was murdered because of a clerical error because of something they failed to look into? How do you tell your four-year-old daughters that?” Leon asked, wiping back tears while speaking to reporters on Monday night.

Details of the Error

On April 9, 2008, Ebel entered into a written plea agreement on charges that he attacked a prison guard, according to a media release from the 11th Judicial District.

It stated that the district attorney and the defendant agreed that the defendant would plead guilty to second-degree assault and the court would impose a consecutive prison sentence of up to four years, plus a mandatory three years of parole.

But during a June 11, 2008, sentencing hearing, there was a misunderstanding.

“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,” the media release said.

“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 word “consecutively” should have added up to four years to the end of the sentence, so Ebel wouldn’t get out until 2017. But the Department of Corrections is required by law to assume a sentence is concurrent  — served simultaneously with the existing sentence — unless it is otherwise noted in the paperwork.

Due to the mistake, he was released on Jan. 28, 2013.  In March, he was involved in a massive gun fight with Texas police and, potentially, the murders of Clements and pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon.

The 11th Judicial District Court’s statement went on to apologize for the oversight.

“The district has undertaken a review of its practices in an effort to avoid a re-occurrence of this circumstance,” it said. “The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements.”

The full media release can be read here.