Opening statements began Monday in the murder trial of Dexter Lewis, who is charged with stabbing 5 people to death in a Denver bar, marking the start of a rare death penalty case in Denver.
It's the 1st time Denver prosecutors have tried a death penalty case since 2001, and the 1st time District Attorney Mitch Morrissey has sought to execute a defendant since he was sworn in in 2005.
A jury was chosen last week out of a pool of nearly 600 people, the Denver Post reported.
Lewis, 25, is charged with killing 5 people inside Fero's Bar & Grill on South Colorado Boulevard in October 2012. 2 co-defendants, brothers Lynell and Joseph Hill, pleaded guilty to the killings in July 2013.
Joseph Hill pleaded guilty to 5 counts of 1st-degree felony murder, and his brother pleaded guilty to 2 counts of 2nd-degree murder and arson.
The victims included 53-year-old Young Suk Fero, an Aurora woman who owned the bar; Daria M. Pohl, 21, of Denver; Kellene Fallon, 44, of Denver; Ross Richter, 29, of Overland Park, Kansas; and Tereasa Beesley, 45, of Denver.
Lewis also is charged with trying to hire a former prison cellmate to kill several witnesses who were expected to testify against him.
The last time a Denver jury chose to execute someone was in 1986, when Frank Rodriguez was convicted in the rape and murder of Lorraine Martelli.
Colorado has 3 men on death row, but the state has not executed anyone since 1997.
In 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper granted an indefinite reprieve to death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, essentially putting a hold on executions while he is governor.
Source: Associated Press, July 21, 2015
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