Nevada top court denies Aurora hammer murder suspect’s extradition appeal; Colorado trials likely

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AURORA | The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday denied the extradition appeal of a 59-year-old man accused of killing three members of an Aurora family with a hammer in 1984, according to court documents. 

Barring a final lob to the U.S. Supreme Court, Alexander Christopher Ewing, who is suspected of committing a series of brutal attacks across the metro area in January 1984, will be extradited to Colorado to face murder charges “as soon as possible,” according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. 

This July 27, 2018 photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows Christopher Ewing, an inmate at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. Ewing is serving a sentence for attempted murder and other crimes. Ewing who was convicted of attacking a couple with an ax handle in their bedroom is being charged with killing four people with a hammer in suburban Denver over 30 years ago, authorities announced Friday, Aug.10, 2018. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP)

“The families of his victims have been waiting for justice since 1984,” Arapahoe County District Attorney said in a statement. “This Nevada inmate has been fighting extradition since August 2018. It is finally time for him to step foot inside a courtroom in this Colorado community and receive the due process to which he is entitled.”

Ewing is suspected of murdering Bruce, Debra and Melissa Bennett with a hammer in their Aurora home in 1984. A fourth Bennett family member, then-3-year-old Vanessa, was also beaten in the attack, but survived.

The case went unsolved for more than 30 years until summer 2018, when investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation linked Ewing to the crime through new DNA evidence. 

Ewing has also been accused of sexually assaulting and brutally murdering a 50-year-old Lakewood woman a week before the Bennett killings.

Several other Aurora residents were confronted and beaten by a man wielding a hammer in their homes in the weeks before the murder of the Bennett family. 

The Nevada ruling handed down Friday largely clears the way for Ewing to stand trial in both Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Ewing could face the death penalty if convicted.

“I am pleased that it appears we can begin moving forward with prosecution of this inmate for the horrible crimes we allege he committed here 35 years ago,” Brauchler said in a statement.

In their ruling filed Nov. 22, the Nevada justices described Ewing’s appeal against extradition to Colorado as “unavailing,” according to court documents.

In the same decision, the justices also denied Ewing’s request for appointed counsel to help him navigate the extradition proceedings. Nevada’s top court determined that “extradition proceedings are not a critical stage of a criminal proceeding to which that right attaches,” according to court documents.

Ewing has been incarcerated in Nevada since the summer of 1984 after he escaped there while being transported to Kingman, Arizona, from St. George, Utah, for a court appearance on attempted murder and burglary charges. While on the lam, he severely beat a woman and her husband with an ax handle in their bedroom near Henderson, Nevada, per court records.

He is currently in custody at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, Nevada, according to state records.

Court dates for Ewing’s proceedings in Arapahoe County will be set once he is transferred to Colorado, according to a spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.