An Arapahoe County jury on Friday found 60-year-old Alex Ewing guilty of first-degree murder in the horrific 1984 killings of a 7-year-old girl and her parents in Aurora — an emotional moment of justice nearly 40 years in the making.
The guilty verdict on all counts, which came after a jury reached an impasse Thursday, is the culmination of a 37-year odyssey for the Bennett family, and another example of new DNA evidence coming to light and reviving a cold case from decades ago.
“A weight was lifted off today,” an emotional Connie Bennett said after the verdict. The mother of Bruce Bennett and grandmother of 7-year-old Melissa Bennett — all killed in the 1984 home invasion — the 87-year-old admitted she’s “very happy it’s all over.”
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Bennett said.
Ewing, 60, was facing a first-degree murder charge in the Bennett family’s slaying, one in a string of seemingly random attacks across metro Denver that terrified residents during a two-week span in early 1984.
The perpetrator of the grisly crimes became known as the “Hammer Killer.”
Bennett is set to be sentenced on Aug. 17, and faces life without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors allege that Ewing used a hammer and a knife to kill Debra Bennett, 26, her husband Bruce Bennett, 27, and their daughter, Melissa Bennett, who also was raped. The family’s youngest, 3-year-old Vanessa Bennett, was severely injured but survived the Aurora home invasion.
During closing arguments Thursday, 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner said semen matched to Ewing’s DNA from the Bennett’s house ties him to the scene of the crime.
Ewing’s attorneys, meanwhile, argued that one person could not have carried out this crime, and that the prosecution’s evidence had been tainted over the years.
Authorities were stumped for decades by the horrific killings, but prosecutors say DNA evidence in 2018 matched Ewing to semen collected from the carpet and comforter in the Bennett sisters’ bedroom.
Ewing was already serving a 40-year sentence in Nevada for attempted murder after beating a couple nearly to death with an ax handle in August 1984, just months after the Bennets were found dead in Aurora.
He was extradited to Colorado after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the move was warranted.
Ewing also stands trial in October in the killing of 50-year-old Patricia Smith, who was attacked at her Lakewood home with a hammer six days before Bennett slayings.
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