A man who raped and beat three little children is back on the streets following a legal mix-up.
William H. Evans, 59, of Allentown was released from state prison two years early because the state made a mistake. First they told him he'd get out in 2006, but that was wrong. When they realized the error, the department of corrections went back and told Evans the correct release date was 2011.
A judge ruled that Evans constitutional rights were violated because the state changed his release date without a hearing or written opinion. U.S. District Judge Norma Shapiro ordered his release from the state prison in Waymart County.
Evans was convicted of beating, molesting and raping two girls and a boy in 1982 when they were 3, 5 and 8, according to court records.
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Lehigh County is trying to get the decision overturned but was not able to win an argument to keep Evans in prison until the legal dispute is put to rest. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear Lehigh County's appeal this fall, according to the district attorney's office.
"Although we respect Judge Shapiro's decision, we believe that her legal analysis was incorrect, that Mr. Evans' rights had not been violated and that he should remain in a state prison until his maximum sentence for Lehigh County crimes is served," District Attorney Jim Martin told The Morning Call in a statement.
Evans committed his crimes against children in two different counties. He was convicted by a Lehigh County jury in 1987 and sentenced to 55 to 110 years in prison. Evans was also convicted by a Northampton County jury, where he received 315 to 638 years in prison. New trials were ordered by the state Superior Court in 1992 when the court said impermissible testimony had been used during the first two trials.
In Northampton County, Evans pleaded guilty in January 1994 to three counts of rape. He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Evans has served his sentence for the county and the issue was only between Evans and Lehigh County according to lehighvalleylive.com.
In Lehigh County he pleaded no contest to three counts of rape. Evans was sentenced in June 1994 to 10 to 20 years to be served at the same time as the Northampton County sentence. Evans also received a consecutive 20 years of probation.