An Arapahoe County jury found an Englewood teenager guilty of killing a Denver chef.
Raheem Benson, now 18, was convicted Thursday of first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery in the 2016 death of Nicholas Lewis, who was 33.
When Benson is sentenced on June 15, he faces life in prison in the Department of Corrections with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
“The public should know that ‘life in prison’ no longer means anything close to that for murderers like this one. Because our state legislature passed a law substantially decreasing the penalties for juvenile murderers, this remorseless killer of a random, innocent, much-beloved, productive member of our society may be let back out onto our streets with our families before he is 40 years old,” said District Attorney George H. Brauchler. “He shot the victim in the chest multiple times and left him to die on the side of the road. Prisons exist to protect us from dangers like this.”
Lewis was a chef at Blackbird Public House in Denver. He had been walking home from a convenience store Oct. 1, 2016, when he was targeted at random.
Englewood Police officers responding to reports of shots fired found Lewis lying on his back in the sidewalk in the 3000 block of South Acoma Street. It appeared he had been shot in the chest. Lewis was pronounced dead at Swedish Medical Center; he had been shot three times and died from a wound to his heart.
Investigators found shell casings at the scene. Witnesses described a vehicle that had left the area, and various security cameras in the area had captured video.
The vehicle was traced to one stolen out of Denver on Sept. 28, 2016; Westminster police reported it was recovered during investigation of an Oct. 3, 2016, shooting. Teenagers Benson and Louis Lara-Macias were arrested in that case.
Englewood detectives were able to tie both of them to Lewis’ death and they were charged with murder.
Lara-Macias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 21 years in the Department of Corrections, which will be suspended upon successful completion of 7 years in the Department of Corrections’ youth offender system.
“We appreciate the fine and swift investigative work of the Englewood Police Department in halting this tragic crime spree,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Rebecca Gleason, who prosecuted the case. “Their work not only led to justice but also made the community safer.”
“This defendant took one life and forever altered others by committing a violent and senseless murder,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Brittany Martin, who prosecuted the case with Gleason. “We hope this verdict will bring some peace to the Lewis family, who lost a son, brother, father and friend.”