Apr 6, 2013 7:22 PM by Eric Ross
Evan Ebel remains the prime suspect in two Colorado shootings that resulted in the deaths of Department of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements and Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery driver from Golden.
Prior to Ebel's release in January 2013, he was serving time on a 2005 conviction for carjacking and burglary.
In 2008, he was also sentenced to an additional 4 years behind bars for assaulting a prison guard.
All together, Ebel's full sentence comes to 15 years. However, he was released after only serving 8.
"We have about 3-percent (of inmates) who are serving life without parole," said Dr. Anthony P. Young, chairman of the Colorado State Board of Parole. "The parole board will never see them. Everyone else will see the parole board at some point during their time incarcerated."
Dr. Young says a vast majority of inmates never serve their entire sentence behind bars. State records indicated Ebel was set to serve 11 years in prison because the 4-year sentence he received in 2008 was entered as a concurrent sentence, rather than time that was supposed to be served consecutively.
Despite that error, the parole board says it would not have prevented Ebel from eventually meeting with them.
"After a person serves about a third of their sentence, they will be eligible for parole," Dr. Young explained. "The parole board may choose to parole them at that point all the way up until the time that they reach their mandatory release date."
Ebel's mandatory release date was January 2013, based on an 11-year sentence instead of the 15 years he was given.
Had his sentence been entered correctly, his release date most likely would have been pushed back a couple of years, meaning Ebel would still be behind bars today.
"When their mandatory release date occurs, that person by statute and by state law has to be paroled," Dr. Young said. "That (time) may be when two-thirds of their sentence is completed."
More than 9,000 inmates were paroled in the fiscal year 2012. Some question whether the laws are too lenient when it comes to their release.
"We look at each case extremely close because we're making decisions about someone's life and the safety of our community," Dr. Young said.
News 5 asked, "Is there a push to get more inmates released because of budget cuts impacting the prison system?"
Dr. Young replied, "No. There's no push to parole more people. That's a very arbitrary notion some people may have."
It's hard for Nathan Leon's family to understand how Ebel was able to be released early. Pulling his criminal record, Ebel has been charged for committing more than 2 dozen crimes in a 10-year time span.
"I want to know who's going to stand up and be accountable," Bernadette Alness, Nathan Leon's Mother-In-Law said.
Both the Department of Corrections and Board of Parole say they will be taking a closer look at their policies and procedures to see if any changes need to be made in the wake of this double tragedy.
On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered the Department of Corrections to audit all inmate records to ensure they are serving their correct sentence.