Man Who Killed 5 for $170 Dodges Death Penalty

Holmes case may have ended death penalty in Colorado
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 30, 2015 3:38 AM CDT
Man Who Killed 5 for $170 Dodges Death Penalty
A young man leaves flowers at an informal memorial at Fero's Bar and Grill in Denver on Oct. 18, 2012.   (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

A man convicted of stabbing five people to death during a Denver bar robbery that netted $170 will be formally sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday. A judge will issue a mandatory sentence of life without parole for Dexter Lewis, 25, who was convicted in August of five counts of murder for the October 2012 stabbings at Fero's Bar and Grill. Prosecutors said Lewis led a four-man robbery crew at Fero's, where he killed the bar's owner and four customers. Two men testified that Lewis stabbed his victims while they were held at gunpoint. His accomplices, brothers Joseph and Lynell Hill, pleaded guilty to murder and received lengthy sentences. The fourth man was a confidential ATF informant at the time and reported the slayings to authorities. He was not charged in the case.

Jurors couldn't agree on death for Lewis, whose attorneys carefully detailed an abusive childhood. The case raised doubts about whether capital punishment will ever be imposed again in Colorado as it came just after theater shooter James Holmes was given a life sentence for murdering 12 people and trying to kill 70 more. In both cases, prosecutors said a single juror blocked the death penalty. In Lewis' case, the juror found that the details of his troubled upbringing favored the mercy of a life sentence over execution. That took the death penalty off the table, because death sentences must be unanimous in Colorado. (The grandfather of one of Holmes' victims thinks the courts should go after the holdout juror.)

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