KUSA — The Nevada inmate suspected in two brutal 1984 hammer attacks that left four dead told a judge Tuesday that he wants to fight efforts to move him to Colorado to face charges in the two cases.
Alex Christopher Ewing, 57, was in court in Carson City, where Judge James Wilson outlined the multiple charges he’s expected to face – including 10 separate counts of first-degree murder.
“Do you object to being turned over to Colorado authorities?” Judge Wilson asked Ewing during the hearing in Carson City District Court.
“I would like to fight my extradition,” Ewing responded as he sat at a defense table, dressed in a pair of Levi’s and a blue long-sleeved shirt, his wrists shackled to a chain wrapped around his belly.
Ewing was identified earlier this summer as a suspect in the Jan. 10, 1984, rape and murder of Patricia Louise Smith in Lakewood and the killings six days later of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter, Melissa, in Aurora. The couple’s younger daughter, Vanessa, was horribly injured in the incident but survived.
The judge gave Ewing 30 days to file an objection to the effort to extradite him to Colorado and scheduled another hearing on Dec. 4.
Jefferson County prosecutors have formally charged Ewing with four counts of first-degree murder and two counts of committing a crime of violence in the murder of Smith at the Lakewood condominium she shared with her daughter and grandchildren.
Smith, 50, was raped and beaten to death with an auto body hammer after apparently being surprised by an intruder while eating lunch.
One of the murder counts accuses Ewing of killing Smith “after deliberation.” Each of the three other murder counts alleges that he killed her while committing another crime – robbery, burglary and sexual assault.
Under Colorado’s felony murder rule, a person can be charged with first-degree murder for killing a person in the commission of another serious crime.
The two counts of committing a crime of violence are both sentencing enhancers.
Arapahoe County prosecutors have not formally charged Ewing in the Bennett case but have an arrest warrant obtained in 2002 that lists 13 separate charges:
- Six counts of first-degree murder – two for each of the victims. One count in each case alleges the killings were carried out with deliberation, the other alleges they were committed as part of another felony.
- One count of attempted first-degree murder for the attack on Vanessa Bennett.
- Two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual assault on a child for the attacks on the girls.
- One count of assault.
- One count of burglary.
In addition, prosecutors in that case listed five sentencing enhancers – all alleging that Ewing committed a crime of violence.
Although the murder weapon was not found at the scene, investigators believe the couple and their daughters were all beaten with a claw hammer. Bruce Bennett’s throat was also cut.
Ewing, now 57, was arrested in Kingman, Arizona, 11 days after the Bennett murders, accused of breaking into a home there and beating a man with a slab of granite. He was behind bars until Aug. 9, 1984, when he escaped after running off during a bathroom break at a gas station while he was being transported to court for a hearing.
That night, Ewing broke into a home in Henderson, Nevada, and attacked a couple with an ax handle, savagely beating them. He was arrested two days later, convicted of multiple charges and has been behind bars in Nevada ever since.
On Aug. 7, 9Wants to Know first reported that Colorado investigators were looking at an inmate in another state as a possible suspect in the Smith and Bennett attacks. Three days later, authorities acknowledged they’d obtained arrest warrants for Ewing in both cases after matching his DNA to genetic material left at each of the crime scenes.
At that point, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed extradition warrants for Ewing issued by prosecutors in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties.
Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-871-1862.