Michael Winter, USA TODAY
A Colorado court apologized Monday for the early release of the white supremacist suspected of killing the state's prisons chief and a pizza delivery driver last month, blaming a clerk's error.
Evan Ebel was paroled Jan. 28 after serving concurrent sentences of three years for a car break-in and a gun offense, and eight years for a violent carjacking and home burglary, KUSA-TV says. But under a separate 2008 plea deal, he was supposed to have served four more years for having assaulted a prison guard in 2006.
The Fremont County court clerk did not record that the additional four years were to have been consecutively, so under Colorado law the Department of Corrections believed the four-year term was concurrent with his previous sentences.
"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," 11th Judicial District administrator Walter Blair wrote in a statement, The Denver Post reported. "The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements."
Ebel's gun has been linked to the March 19 slaying of prisons director Tom Clements at his home in Monument, and evidence also has tied him to the killing two days earlier of Denver pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon. Ebel, 28, died March 21 in a shootout with Texas authorities.
"There should be more than just a two-sentence apology," Leon's sister-in-law Amber Lane told the Post. "I thank somebody for taking accountability for the error; however, it doesn't bring Nate back."
Court officials vowed to review their procedures to ensure the error isn't repeated.
"The Colorado Department of Corrections values its long-standing partnership with the 11th Judicial District and the district attorney's office to maintain order at the prisons in Canon City. We commend both the 11th Judicial District and the DOC for reviewing their own internal processes and procedures," Gov. John Hickenlooper's spokeswoman Megan Castle said in a written statement.
Contributing: Associated Press