It took 37 years, but on Tuesday, the families of Bruce and Debra Bennett saw justice served.
Arapahoe County District Judge Darren Vahle sentenced Alex Christopher Ewing, 61, for killing the couple and their 7-year-old daughter in 1984. Vahle imposed life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years for each of the three murders, to be served consecutive to Ewing’s prison term in Nevada and to each other.
“I have seen all kinds of evil and wickedness … nothing compares to the level of depravity that your actions show in this case,” Vahle told Ewing. “There is no punishment that is too harsh for you … and I will do everything in my power to make sure you never draw a free breath ever again.”
Bruce was 27 years old and Debra was 26 in 1984. They had recently purchased a new home in Aurora for their young family, consisting of Melissa and a younger sister who was 3 years old.
On the night of Jan. 15, a stranger broke into their home and viciously assaulted and attacked the family. Only the youngest daughter survived, with life-threatening injuries.
For years the case was cold, until in 2018 a DNA profile from semen the killer left at the scene was matched to Ewing. He was brought to Colorado to face trial for the deaths of the Bennett family.
Ewing “massacred a family but left a key to his identity,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Garrik Storgaard told the jury. “There is no innocent explanation for how you explain all of the evidence.”
The jury agreed, and on Aug. 6, 2021, they found Ewing guilty of murder in the three deaths.
During sentencing Aug. 17, members of the Bennett and Large families submitted impact statements and came to the courtroom. A handful spoke in court, including the surviving daughter.
“I didn’t just lose my parents and my sister,” she said. “I lost the person who I was supposed to be.”
District Attorney John Kellner filed the murder charges against Ewing when he headed up the Cold Case Unit in the office. He stayed on the prosecution team with Storgaard and Senior Deputy District Attorney Megan Brewer.
“This case impacted not just the victims, but it also terrorized an entire community,” he said. “A life sentence feels too light, but that is the most the justice system can offer. Thankfully, this community, these families and everyone impacted by the horrific crimes now knows this defendant will never hurt anyone ever again.”