DA George Brauchler finds pattern of parole absconders committing crimes in 18th Judicial District

DENVER - 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler knew absconders posed a significant threat even before the Evan Ebel case made national headlines.

As an example, Brauchler cited the case of Robert Todd.

Todd was originally sentenced to 3 years in prison for felony menacing. He served just one year -- a third of his sentence -- before getting out on parole.

Within five months, Todd missed curfew and absconded, ultimately attacking the original victim, his then-wife, in front of her children.

"He had attacked his wife, who had been the victim of the first menacing, and nearly cut her throat, almost cut her hand off, during that vicious attack, while he was on parole," Brauchler told CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta.

Brauchler said the victims had called the parole division to express their concerns.

"In fact, [they voiced] specific concerns that they felt their lives were in danger. Yet, (it was) six or seven days later when this [attack] actually occurred," Brauchler said.

Todd was arrested and eventually convicted of second-degree attempted murder.

It did not take long for Brauchler, only in office since January, to identify a pattern.

"We uncovered cases where there were parolees who were able to abscond, during the period of time where they had absconded committed new crimes; vicious crimes, while they are not being monitored or actively tracked by parole," he said.   

Marchetta showed Brauchler the timeline of parole events she uncovered in the Ebel case.

The CALL7 Investigators have been digging into the parole division’s response after Ebel sent up multiple red flags by breaking the conditions of his parole and ultimately, police said, killing part-time pizza delivery driver Nate Leon and Colorado Prisons Director Tom Clements.

Marchetta obtained the timecard of Ebel’s parole officer for the week Ebel absconded and compared it to the events leading to the murders Ebel is implicated in, sharing the findings with Brauchler.

It showed the officer worked half days and took the weekend off, ignoring multiple system-wide alerts that Ebel had gone off the grid.

It took Ebel’s parole officer days to take any action based on the alerts of his disappearance.

"When you look at this timeline and the response of the parole officers, what do you think of that?" Marchetta asked.

"Obviously, I have concerns and I think the State of Colorado has concerns," Brauchler said.

The CALL7 Investigators also showed Brauchler their interview with Parole Director Tim Hand, who created the special Gang Unit Ebel's parole officer belonged to. The sole purpose of the unit is to closely monitor high-risk parolees.

Hand admitted there were no policies in place requiring the parole officer to respond to any of the alerts within a given time period.

"In the absence of guidelines, requirements or rules then we are sort of left to whatever leadership exists to help them do their jobs the best way possible," Brauchler said.

The CALL7 Investigators also obtained the Department of Corrections' chain of command. 

It shows, and Marchetta’s sources confirm, Ebel’s officer had two back-ups the weekend Ebel absconded, in addition to 5 higher levels of managers, including a team leader, supervisor and assistant director, none of whom took action for almost a week.

"As a citizen, not as a D.A., I find that wholly unsatisfying for many of these violent criminals, who get back out on the streets. The bottom line is, if it were the brakes on your car that went out intermittently, you wouldn't ignore it and keep driving; you'd pull it over and take it to a shop and have it fixed," Brauchler said.  

Brauchler also said his office will take a closer look at the sentences and plea bargains they seek in light of CALL7’s findings, since these decisions always factor in parole.

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