Erasmo Ledezma, Ex-Con Released Early From Prison, Murdered on Thanksgiving Day by Unknown Attacker

Erasmo Ledezma, a 26-year-old Phoenix scofflaw, might have felt hope on the day he was released from prison last year after having served four years for theft.

Though he'd been convicted of theft, Department of Corrections records show he'd been released a couple of years early in a 2004 program set up by lawmakers originally for non-violent drug offenders.

He apparently returned to a life of crime. Ledezma was caught last month selling drugs and in possession of a gun he wasn't legally allowed to possess. On November 12, he was arrested again for possessing a gun. Court records show that he blew off his court appearances.

He still had a warrant out for arrest on Thanksgiving Day, when his severely traumatized and lifeless body was found about 10 p.m. near a boat yard at Washington and 40th Street.

See also: Thanksgiving Day Homicide in Phoenix Suspected After Police Find Body With "Trauma"

Phoenix police told us about the holiday murder on Friday, when they still hadn't identified Ledezma and notified his family. This morning, Officer James Holmes sent the news media an e-mail about the homicide announcing that police still hadn't come up with any potential suspects or motive.

Police are hoping someone in the community will come forward with info.

"Phoenix Police have very little to go with this investigation and we are asking the public's assistance in determining what happened to Mr. Ledezma," Holmes wrote.

In the meantime, we're checking up on Ledezma's "SB1291 Release," as it's called on the ADOC Web site. The early-release law was approved by lawmakers in 2003 as a way to save the state money in prison costs. We'll let you know if we find anything interesting.

UPDATE: Bill Lamoreaux, spokesman for the ADOC, later provided us with this information about Ledezma's release. It's a bit long, but Lamoreaux put a lot of work into it, so we're publishing the whole thing. Basically, it describes how Ledezma's early release worked -- he got credit for time served in jail before his prison sentence, and he was able to enjoy a change to the transition program that expanded it to more than just drug offenders. Lamoreaux's research below:

The Transition Program was established by Laws 2003, Chapter 256 (SB 1291) for nonviolent drug offenders. The statutes related to the Transition Program have been amended several times since 2003, including:

· In 2007, HB 2298 (Laws 2007, Chapter 247) made numerous changes to the Transition Program, including further clarifying that eligible inmates must not have been convicted of a violent offense and requiring that their victim(s) had the opportunity to be heard regarding the decision to release the inmate up to 90 days early.

· In 2010, SB 1093 (Laws 2010, Chapter 54) expanded the Transition Program to include additional non-violent offenders other than only non-violent drug offenders.

· SB 1213 (Laws 2012, Chapter 65 E) was also passed in 2012 and it specified that inmates convicted of domestic violence offenses, pursuant to ARS 13-3601, are not eligible to participate in the Transition Program.

To read the current statutes governing the Transition Program, please review ARS 31-281 through ARS 31-287 at

Director's Instruction #219 provides information on ADC's policy related to the Transition Program and can be viewed here:

Below is a detailed explanation of IM Erasmo Ledezma-Hernandez's (#215590) time calculation:


(A01) Sentence imposed on 3/21/07 with 116 days jail credits. Sentence begin date 11/25/06 (sentence imposed date minus jail credits) Sentence imposed 5 years SED 11/24/11

Inmate is eligible to earn release credits pursuant to A.R.S. § 41-1604.07 A. Pursuant to rules adopted by the director, each prisoner who is in the eligible earned release credit class shall be allowed an earned release credit of one day for every six days served, including time served in county jails, except for those prisoners who are sentenced to serve the full term of imprisonment imposed by the court.

Based on the above statute inmate earned 8 months 17 days earned release credits. Deducting the release credits from the SED makes his ERCD 2/9/11.

(B01) Sentence imposed on 3/21/07 with 141 days jail credits. Since this is a consecutive sentence, sentence cannot start until the ERCD from the prior sentence Sentence begin date 9/21/10 (ERCD prior sentence minus jail credits) Sentence imposed 1 year SED 10/19/11

Inmate is eligible to earn release credits on this sentence based on the above statute and would earn 1 month and 9 days release credits.

In addition inmate is eligible for up to a 90 day Temporary Release (TR) pursuant to A.R.S. 13-233 (B)

B. Under specific rules established by the director for the selection of inmates, the director may also authorize furlough, temporary removal or temporary release of any inmate for compassionate leave, for the purpose of furnishing to the inmate medical treatment not available at the prison or institution, for purposes preparatory to a return to the community within ninety days of the inmate's release date or for disaster aid, including local mutual aid and state emergencies. When an inmate is temporarily removed or temporarily released for a purpose preparatory to return to the community or for compassionate leave, the director may require the inmate to reimburse the state, in whole or part, for expenses incurred by the state in connection with the inmate's temporary removal or release.

Deducting the 90 day TR and the 1 month 9 days earned release credits from the SED; inmates CSBD is calculated as 6/10/11

Inmate also met eligibility criteria for release pursuant to:

A.R.S. § 31-281

A. The department shall establish a transition program. The department shall administer the transition program and contract with private or nonprofit entities to provide eligible inmates with transition services and shall procure transition services pursuant to title 41, chapter 23.


A.R.S. § 31-285

A. An inmate who enters a transition program pursuant to this article shall be released from confinement three months earlier than the inmate's earliest release date based on the inmate's risk and need and rules adopted pursuant to section 31-281. An inmate who the director determines has participated in the program but who is not low risk shall not be released from confinement earlier than the inmate's earliest release date.

Deducting the 3 months from the CSBD inmate was eligible for release on 3/12/11 on an SB1291 release.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.