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Man found competent to stand trial in '84 killing after previous mistrial

Weeks after a mistrial was declared, Alex Ewing has been found competent to stand trial in the 1984 death of Patricia Smith in Lakewood.
Credit: Lakewood police
Patricia Louise Smith in an undated family photo.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — Weeks after a mistrial was declared, Alex Ewing has been found competent to stand trial in the 1984 death of Patricia Smith in Lakewood, a judge ruled Monday. 

The first trial in the case began in October. The day after opening statements, the judge declared a mistrial after the defense team filed a motion arguing that Ewing was not competent to stand trial. 

RELATED: Judge declares mistrial for man charged in 1984 Lakewood killing

The new trial begins with jury selection on March 25.

Ewing faces multiple counts of first-degree murder in the killing of Patricia Louise Smith, an interior decorator who was beaten to death with a hammer in the townhouse she shared with her daughter and grandchildren. 

Credit: Lakewood police
Patricia Louise Smith in an undated family photo.

The October mistrial came months after an Arapahoe County jury convicted Ewing in connection with the January 1984 killing of three members of the Bennett family in Aurora. The judge in that case imposed three consecutive life sentences – meaning he will die in prison.

Smith, 50, was surprised at home as she ate a lunchtime hamburger on Jan. 10, 1984 – six days before the murders in Aurora of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their seven-year-old daughter, Melissa. The Bennetts were beaten to death with a hammer. The couple’s younger daughter, then-three-year-old Vanessa, suffered critical injuries, but survived.

RELATED: Man found guilty in 1984 hammer attacks is sentenced to life in prison – three times

At the time, Ewing was identified as a suspect in the Bennett and Smith cases, he was serving a 110-year sentence for a late-night ax handle attack on a couple in Henderson, Nevada, that happened about seven months after the Colorado murders.

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