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AP: Error Led To Release Of Prison Chief Slaying Suspect About 4 Years Early

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AP Photo

However, the court clerk failed to note after the plea that the sentence was supposed to be served "consecutively," or after, Ebel's current one. So the legal system recorded it as one to be served "concurrently," or at the same time.

So on Jan. 28, prisons officials saw that Ebel had finished his court-ordered sentence and had no option but to release him. Two months later he was dead after a shootout with authorities in Texas. The gun he used was the same used to shoot prisons chief Tom Clements to death two days earlier. Police believe Ebel also was involved in the death of a Domino's delivery man, Nathan Leon, in Denver.

"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.