Jury in “Hammer Killer” case starts deliberations in 1984 slaying of Aurora family

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Police accidental DNA grounds links Alex Ewing to the 1984 murders of 3 members of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old girl Melissa, left. Only 3-year-old Vanessa, astatine right, survived.

More than 37 years aft the crime, an Arapahoe County assemblage began deliberating Thursday successful the execution proceedings of Alex Ewing successful the 1984 slaying of a 7-year-old miss and her parents.

Ewing, 60, is standing proceedings for first-degree murder successful the Bennett family’s slaying, 1 of a drawstring of random attacks successful the Denver country that rattled residents during a 12-day span successful January 1984.

He is accused of utilizing a hammer and a weapon to termination Debra Bennett, 26, her hubby 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 location invasion.

Detectives were stumped by the random attacks by the alleged “Hammer Killer” for much than 3 decades, until familial worldly successful semen collected astatine 2 transgression scenes matched Ewing’s DNA, prosecutors alleged. He had been imprisoned successful mid-1984, conscionable months aft the Bennetts’ killings, connected a 40-year condemnation for attacking a mates with an ax grip successful Nevada.

During closing arguments Thursday, 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner suggested that Ewing took attraction to fell his fingerprints — a cardinal method that was utilized to place suspects successful the ’80s — but had nary thought that his DNA could pb backmost to him due to the fact that DNA exertion was “pie successful the entity science” successful 1984.

“He cannot walk, tally oregon fell from the advances of subject that person proven beyond immoderate tenable uncertainty that this man, to the exclusion of each different radical successful this world, near the semen down aft raping Melissa Bennett to decease and sidesplitting her family,” Kellner told the jury, which heard 7 days of grounds successful the case.

Ewing’s nationalist defenders argued that 1 idiosyncratic could not person carried retired the onslaught connected the household alone, which meant the lawsuit against Ewing was fundamentally flawed.

Public defender Stephen McCrohan suggested that grounds from the transgression country could person been contaminated implicit the years, and during closing arguments listed much than a twelve pieces of grounds that were not tested for DNA, suggesting investigators made the determination to “bury their heads successful the sand” and disregard grounds that pointed distant from Ewing.

“The elemental information is erstwhile you, the jury, looks astatine everything and considers each the grounds successful the case, the deficiency of evidence, and each the grounds the prosecution made the conscious determination not look into, you volition find that that does not adjacent impervious beyond a tenable doubt,” helium said. “It does not adjacent impervious beyond a tenable uncertainty due to the fact that Alex Ewing did not bash this.”

Ewing tin beryllium recovered blameworthy arsenic a conspirator to the transgression adjacent though a 2nd fishy has not been identified oregon prosecuted, Judge Darren Vahle told the assemblage earlier closing arguments.

Prosecutors made country for jurors to judge that Ewing acted with an accomplice during closing arguments, but Kellner said adjacent if Ewing worked with an as-yet-unidentified partner, helium was inactive guilty.

“What if determination is much than 1 idiosyncratic who helped bash this? He is inactive blameworthy arsenic a conspirator,” Kellner said.

McCrohan told the assemblage that the prosecution was shifting its theories astir what happened during the onslaught erstwhile they acknowledged the assemblage could find Ewing blameworthy arsenic a conspirator, and argued that the territory attorney’s bureau was throwing retired theories similar “the lotto,” hoping thing sticks.

“Their full theory, and however they’ve been operating connected this from the beginning, is that it’s conscionable him,” McCrohan said. “And present that they’ve seen immoderate of the grounds doesn’t acceptable that, they’re shifting.”

The assemblage began deliberating astatine astir 12:15 p.m.

Ewing is besides charged with sidesplitting 50-year-old Patricia Smith, who was attacked astatine her Lakewood location with a hammer six days earlier the Bennett household was slain. That proceedings is acceptable for October.

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