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Mistrial declared in second 'hammer killer' trial after judge grants competency evaluation

Alex Ewing convicted in Bennett family killings in August
Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 12:08:26-04

DENVER – A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of killing a Lakewood woman during a murder spree in 1984 and ordered a competency evaluation at the request of his defense attorneys.

Alex Christopher Ewing, 61, was facing his second murder trial this year – this time for the killing of Patricia Smith in Lakewood.

Ewing, known to Coloradans as the man accused of killing several people in hammer attacks more than three decades ago across the metro area, was convicted in August by an Arapahoe County jury of murder and several other counts in the killings of three members of an Aurora family in January 1984. A judge sentenced him to three consecutive life sentences for his conviction in that case.

Opening statements got underway Tuesday in Ewing’s second trial, in which he is accused of killing 50-year-old Patricia Smith at her Lakewood home on Jan. 10, 1984. Prosecutors worked to link similarities from the scenes of the Bennett and Smith murders, noting Smith and Melissa Bennett were sexually assaulted, semen was left at both scenes, and Ewing allegedly left weapons at both scenes.

The mistrial in Jefferson County District Court was declared after Ewing’s defense counsel filed a motion for a competency evaluation for Ewing, which was granted by Judge Tamara Russell, according to the court.

Ewing is facing four counts of first-degree murder and two possible sentence enhancers if he is found guilty. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in February.

Smith was beaten to death inside her home in the 12000 block of West Bayaud Avenue in Lakewood on the afternoon of Jan. 10, 1984, six days before the Bennetts were killed.

The Smith case and the other hammer killings and attacks remained cold until 2018, when that August, Colorado authorities announced Ewing had been charged in the killing of Smith and Bruce, Debra and Melissa Bennett, and in the attack on Vanessa Bennett. He was in prison in Nevada serving time on attempted murder and burglary charges at the time.

Investigators matched a DNA profile linking Smith’s death and the deaths of the Bennetts in 2002 and Ewing’s DNA was matched to that profile in July 2018 when Nevada prison officials entered his DNA into a database.

It was not immediately clear when or where Ewing will undergo the competency evaluation Wednesday morning.