Dexter Lewis gets life sentence for Fero’s Bar massacre

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Colorado death penalty debated as 2 mass killers get life.

DENVER (AP) — A Denver jury’s refusal to give the death penalty to a man who stabbed five people to death in a bar, coming on the heels of theater shooter James Holmes’ life sentence, has many wondering whether the ultimate penalty will ever again be applied in Colorado. For the second time this summer, a first-rate team of Colorado prosecutors could not secure a death sentence for the perpetrator of crimes of almost indescribable horror.

Lewis was found guilty of killing five people inside Fero’s Bar & Grill on South Colorado Boulevard and then setting the building on fire in October 2012. John Hickenlooper, who said he had concerns about capital punishment’s inconsistent application and problems in obtaining the drugs required for lethal injection, among other factors. Those families were slated to address the jury in the third and final stage of the trial’s penalty phase, but the jury could not come to a unanimous conclusion about whether mitigating factors about Lewis’ life — such as the brutal abuse he experienced as a child — outweighed the crime’s aggravating factors. That conclusion is entirely defensible and perhaps even predictable — just as it was always plausible that defense attorneys would convince at least one juror in Holmes’ trial that he was too mentally ill to be put to death.

Lewis’ defense attorneys carefully detailed his abusive childhood, which included Lewis watching his father treat his mother brutally and endure beatings and verbal abuse of his own. “I’d hit him with a belt, hit him with my fists. … None of the victims’ family members spoke after they left court on Thursday but Morales spoke for them, “They accept the jury’s verdict, they knew all along this could be a possibility.” The victims include 53-year-old Young Suk Fero, an Aurora woman who owned the bar; Daria M. Testimony during the Fero’s trial revealed that Lewis’ mother and other family members dressed the young Lewis like his late father and encouraged him to be involved in gangs. They will likely focus on the choice Lewis had to commit the crimes and the reality that not everyone who has a difficult childhood follows a similar path. Then walked in a confidential informant from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Demarea Harris, who was at the crime scene with the three defendants.

The decisions in the Holmes and Lewis cases are not necessarily a sign of where the public stands, but simply show that death verdicts are difficult, “which is a good thing,” Denver attorney Craig Silverman said. The defense spoke about a history of physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use, and frequent violence within the family; but also as part of gang activity. A Quinnipiac University Poll released in July found 63 percent supported execution for Holmes, while 32 percent believed he should be sentenced to life without parole. In the Lewis case, defense attorneys extensively detailed abuse he suffered during childhood as a reason why jurors should grant him the mercy of a life sentence over execution. Her mother, Zinaida Pohl, declined to speak Thursday evening when reached by phone. “We have no regrets about what we’ve done in this case or what we sought in this case.

It is one that needs to be sought,” Morales said. “And if the jury does not decide unanimously that it is the right penalty, we respect that.” Eight of the jurors left in a group and were escorted out of the courthouse by three sheriff’s deputies, and the jurors who left individually also had a deputy escort. They were her friends — people she knew and trusted,” her estranged husband, Danny Duane Fero, said. “She didn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Daria “Dasha” Pohl, 22, worked at the Holiday Inn near the bar.

She was a sophomore at Metropolitan State University of Denver and planned to transfer to the University of Colorado Denver to pursue a business degree.

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