A day after opening statements in the murder trial of Alex Ewing, Judge Tamara Russell granted a mistrial in the case after Ewings’ attorney requested an evaluation of his mental competency.
The reason for the competency assessment request is contained in a sealed motion and has not been disclosed.
Ewing, 61, is accused in the 1984 Lakewood murder of Patricia Smith, 50.
Smith’s murder occurred just six days before the January 1984 killings of Bruce, Debra and Melissa Bennett in Aurora.
The Bennett case was the subject of national media coverage due to its savage nature — the Bennett's, including 7-year-old Melissa, were thought to be killed with a hammer.
Both Smith and Debra Bennett had been sexually assaulted by their assailant. Smith was found beaten to death (also with a hammer) in her home on West Bayaud.
Both cases remained unsolved for years until a DNA match led cold-case investigators to Ewing, who was serving time in an Arizona prison for attempted murder and burglary.
Ewings’ DNA profile matched evidence found at the scene of the Bennett and Smith murders. He was finally charged with the gruesome Colorado crimes in August, 2018.
In August, 2021, Ewing was convicted of the Bennett murders by an Arapahoe County jury. Last month, he was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences by the presiding judge.
During opening statements in the Smith case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Katharine Decker told jurors about numerous similarities in the Smith and Bennett murders. The killer had entered both homes through open garage doors. Both sets of victims were bludgeoned to death and semen had been found in similar locations at both crime scenes.
Defense attorney, Katherine Powers Spengler, said the facts in the case were not that simple, and that evidence connecting Ewing to the crime had been mishandled and contaminated in the decades since the crime occurred.
The newspaper reached out to Colorado’s First Judicial District for information about Ewings’ assessment and next steps, but at press time have not received a response.
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