CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) - A jury has found Alex Ewing guilty on all counts in the 1984 murder of an Aurora family. The jury found Ewing guilty of killing three members of the Bennett family with a hammer.
Advancements in DNA evidence led investigators to a match with Ewing and samples collected from the crime scene as well as one of the victims 34 years later.
On the night of Jan. 15, 1984, the Bennett family left their garage door open. Bruce and Debra Bennett lived with their daughter Melissa and younger daughter, Vanessa. In just two days, Melissa would turn 8 years old. All four of them were attacked inside the home that night, only Vanessa survived.
Bruce and Debra were brutally attacked and killed inside their home, Melissa was killed and also raped. Bruce's mother would discover the family the next day inside the home, after no one answered calls to their landline.
The prosecution compared the Bennett family murders to another murder where a woman, Patricia Smith of Lakewood, was also murdered with a hammer earlier that same month. In that homicide, DNA evidence was found matching Ewing.
Prosecutors believe Friday's verdict gives hope for other cold cases.
"Every time we keep going back to the well with DNA, with genealogy, we get better and better at this, we find the people responsible for these heinous acts, who thought they got away with it," said district attorney John Kellner. "So absolutely, there is hope for victims, there is hope for justice."
The judge polled each juror and the verdict was unanimous. On Thursday, the jury foreman told the judge that they were at an "impasse" and could not reach a decision. The judge urged the jury to end deliberations and return Friday morning. The jury reached a verdict on Friday afternoon.
The defense asked the judge for a mistrial, citing that Ewing has a right to a unanimous jury that hasn't been coerced into a verdict. The judge denied the motion for a mistrial.
"I'm very happy that it's all over, been a long time waiting for this," said Connie Bennett, mother of Bruce Bennett. "I want to thank the prosecution team, they've done a great job. It's just like a weight's been lifted off."
A sentencing hearing for Ewing will take place at the Arapahoe County Courthouse, Courtroom 201, on August 17 at 1:30 p.m.
The mandatory minimum sentence for each count is life with possibility of parole after 20 years, according to the prosecution. Those was the sentencing rules in 1984, and since these crimes were committed at that time, Ewing is grandfathered in to those standards.
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