Ex-Nevada inmate convicted in 1984 Colorado hammer killings

National News

Defendant Alex Ewing enters the court for his murder trial, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in an Arapahoe County Court in Centennial, Colo. Ewing is accused of killing Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa in Aurora in January 1984. (Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado via AP, Pool)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A former Nevada prison inmate was convicted Friday of first-degree murder in the long-unsolved 1984 hammer and knife slayings of three Colorado family members, including a 7-year-old girl.

Alex Ewing, 60, was found guilty by a jury, The Denver Post reported, after a trial in which prosecutors argued DNA evidence pointed to Ewing as the suspect.

Prosecutors alleged Ewing used a hammer and a knife to kill Debra Bruce Bennett, 27, his wife Debra, 26, and their daughter, Melissa, in the Bennetts’ home in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Melissa Bennett also was raped, prosecutors said.

Another daughter, 3-year-old Vanessa, was beaten in the head with a hammer as were her parents and sister but survived the attack.

Ewing is also charged with the hammer killing of Patricia Louise Smith, 50, in her home in suburban Lakewood about a week before the Aurora killings. Smith also was sexually assaulted. Ewing’s trial in that case is set for October.

Ewing was identified as a suspect in 2018 through DNA evidence while in imprisoned in Nevada, where he was convicted of attacking a couple in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson in 1984 with an ax handle in their bedroom. The results of a DNA sample taken from Ewing were linked with DNA developed years later from evidence taken from the scenes of the Colorado killings.

Ewing’s attorneys argued that the prosecution’s evidence in the Aurora case had been tainted over the decades.

Public defender Stephen McCrohan also told jurors that evidence from the Bennetts’ home pointed to people other than Ewing being responsible. He faulted investigators for working without gloves and not properly securing the crime scene at the home after the killings.

Bruce Bennett’s mother, Connie Bennett, 87, testified that she discovered her son’s bloody body inside the home after her son and his wife did not show up for work.

“A weight was lifted off today,” she said after the verdict. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

Ewing faces life in prison without possibility of parole when he is sentenced later this month.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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