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Murderer of former Braves pitcher let out of prison 10 years early

NealEvans.jpg

FILE: This photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Neal Evans.Florida Department of Corrections

The widow of an Atlanta Braves pitcher who was gunned down in a 1995 robbery is outraged that her husband's killer has been released from prison 10 years early, she told FoxNews.com.

Relief pitcher Dave Shotkoski, 30, was fatally shot as he returned to his hotel while in spring training with the Braves in 1995 in West Palm Beach, Fla. Two years later, Neal Evans was charged with second-degree murder, thanks in part to a teammate who was determined to track down his killer. On Tuesday, Evans, now 47, was released from Florida's South Bay Correctional Facility.

"He should be sitting in jail for the rest of his life," Shotkoski's widow, Felicia, told FoxNews.com on Wednesday. "And if not, he should at least serve out his entire sentence."

Florida Department of Corrections records indicate that Evans had been jailed at least five times prior to the 1995 shooting, including for convictions of burglary, grand theft auto and cocaine possession. He is now on conditional release until 2022.

Evans was sentenced to 27 years in prison for Shotkoski's murder, but earned 20 days of time for good behavior during every month served, said Shotkoski, who learned her husband's murderer who be released on Sunday via an automated phone message.

"I feel cheated, but so should the people on the streets with him today," she continued. "And so should the people of Chicago and New York with people just like him. I would like to take this felon and use him to open the eyes of the justice system."

Shotkoski said a criminal justice system that allows Evans to become a free man -- despite serving 17 years behind bars -- seems to "favor the criminal's rights over the victim's," she said.

"It makes me upset that he's out," she said. "The choice was his, he made those choices. And now he still has his life ahead of him."

Shotkoski said Florida Department of Corrections officials told her that anyone convicted of a crime in the state prior to October 1995 would be credited 20 days of time served with good behavior. Those convicted after that date must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, she said.

"The laws have to change," Shotkoski said. "The government should not be letting convicted murderers back on the street."

Evans, who initially faced the death penalty, made a plea deal with prosecutors after his first trial concluded in a hung jury. Key prosecution witnesses then failed to testify during the subsequent trial, Felicia Shotkoski said.

Shotkoski, now living in Chicago, said the couple's 17-year-old daughter, Alexis, still "lives with [the murder] every day" while Evans is free and will be staying with a friend in Riviera Beach, Fla., under conditions of his probation that include no drug use, no contact with known felons and a monthly visit to his probation officer until 2022.

"We live with it every day," she said. "Her Dad's not here and things he has to follow, it's laughable."

Terry Blocker, a first-round draft pick in 1981 by the New York Mets, was reportedly chatting with Shotkoski just a day before he was killed and later gathered information he turned over to police that was used to arrest Evans. 

Blocker, a former Pentecostal deacon who could not be immediately reached for comment, declined to accept a portion of the $10,000 reward offered by the Braves and West Palm Beach police.

"That was not my motivation," Blocker told People in 1995. "I was looking for satisfaction of a different kind."

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