Chief Judge Carlos Samour today sentenced Kevin Lyons, 47, to life in prison plus 352 years for a shooting in a Centennial neighborhood that left Dr. Kenneth Atkinson dead.
In imposing the maximum sentence, Samour called Atkinson a “real life super hero” who was a “truly amazing human being in every respect.”
On April 4, 2016, Lyons chased his wife from their home with a gun. He shot at her, hitting her in the back, as she rushed to a neighbor across the street for safety. The neighbor was shot in the face.
The neighbor spoke at sentencing.
“In a matter of moments, I went from a neighbor gardening on a beautiful day to a person being hunted by a man who was beyond evil. … (Lyons) was determined to kill me,” she told the court in Arapahoe County.
Lyons continued to shoot at the two women as the neighbor hid, then ran for cover.
Dr. Ken Atkinson, 66, heard the commotion and rushed out of his home to help.
Lyons also shot at him. After Atkinson was initially hit, Lyons moved closer and shot and killed him.
“The defendant pursued Dr. Atkinson and shot him several times. He left Dr. Atkinson there bleeding and dying,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham, who prosecuted the case with Senior Deputy District Attorney Andrew Steers and Deputy District Attorney Danielle Jaramillo. “But the defendant wasn’t finished shooting … He was willing to shoot and kill to keep anyone from helping his wife.”
Lyons’ wife and the neighbor across the street survived. Medical personnel were unable to save Atkinson.
His widow addressed the court.
“I am not the same person I was. Grief seeps into your soul and robs you of your very soul,” she said. “I am broken but not destroyed. For his hate-filled deeds, his disregard for human life, I believe Kevin Lyons is worthy of the harshest penalty this state allows.”
Lyons pleaded guilty to all the charges against him at a hearing on May 4. His sentence to the Department of Corrections includes life for the death of Atkinson and consecutive sentences in prison for his acts against the other victims.
District Attorney George Brauchler explained that he examined all evidence he could and spoke to victims before opting not to seek the death penalty.
“The system in many ways is impotent to render true justice in a case like this. You had a very very good man killed by a very bad man. Tragedy is overused, but this IS a tragedy. Life in prison for this defendant can’t balance what this man has done to this family and this community,” Brauchler said. “This was a tough one. There’s no good outcome to this. We achieved what we could. I was satisfied that justice included this outcome.”