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Colorado man sentenced to 57 years in prison for murdering his 19-year-old girlfriend

Cole Lewis has been sentenced to 57 years in prison last week for murdering his 19-year-old girlfriend. Lewis, 22, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, assault and crime of violence on Jan. 16 for the murder of Laila Combes in March of last year. 

Laila Combes 1st Judicial District Attorney's Office

According to the Lakewood Police Department, agents responded to a welfare check on a vehicle parked outside the Panera Bread located at 14740 W Colfax Ave. Agents said the car was severely damaged and inoperable. They found what appeared to be two people inside covered by blankets. 

One agent found that underneath one of the blankets was the deceased body of Combes. At the time, Lewis told police he and Combes had gotten into a "huge fight" before he was taken into custody.

He told police that the two were working at Garbanzo's restaurant near the Colorado Mills Mall and after their shift on March 30, 2023, Lewis drove Combes home. During the drive Combes reportedly told Lewis she wanted to be in an "open relationship" which was upsetting to Lewis. He dropped her off and returned to Garbanzo's. 

Lewis was upset and began drinking tequila while working and the restaurant was closed early because Lewis was "cutting his forearm at work." He returned to his vehicle and continued to drink.

About 11 p.m. Lewis drove to Combes' apartment so they could talk but while in the apartment parking lot, he broke the tequila bottle into pieces, got the top part of the broken bottle and took it back to his car. Lewis told police he was mad at Combes for wanting to date other men and was experiencing "blinding rage," and he "blacked out."

Cole Lewis 1st Judicial District Attorney's Office

Lewis said he remembered driving and at one point Combes jerked the wheel and they crashed into a tree. The car was damaged but Lewis drove it back to the Garbanzo's parking lot. That's when he told police that he remembered strangling Combes and that she was breathing "weird" so he cut her neck with the broken tequila bottle. An autopsy also revealed additional stab wounds to the face, neck and chest. 

At the sentencing on March 1, there were so many friends and family of Combes that they filled two courtrooms. 

"Stopping someone's ability to breathe for extended periods is intimate and calculated," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Chandler Grant in a statement.

Further arguing that after he strangled her, instead of calling 911 or attempting to save her life, in a final act of violence, he ruthlessly stabbed her in the neck. 

Grant argued, "This was a killing done with a purpose, a killing done with rage."

In his decision, Judge Ryan Loewer noted "the senseless brutality" and unneeded loss of life while acknowledging the young age of the defendant and sentenced Lewis to 48 years for second-degree murder and 9 years on the assault charge to be served consecutively for a total of 57 years in prison. 

Additional Resources from the First Judicial District Attorney's Office:

Safe2Tell Colorado: Anonymously report anything that concerns or threatens you, your friends, your family, or your community. We take your reports any time, any day. You have the power to make a difference. Report online or by phone: 877-542-7233.

Colorado Crisis Services: Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or Text "TALK" to 38255. CCS is a 24/7/365 support line for anyone affected by a mental health, substance use or emotional crisis. All calls are connected to a mental health professional, who will provide immediate support and connections to further resources.

If you are being abused or know someone who is, please visit Violence Free Colorado to find the domestic violence program nearest you. Anyone in crisis or in need of immediate help, dial 911 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or TTY (800) 787−3224.

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