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Attorney Says Death Penalty A Hard Sell In Denver

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Dexter Lewis (credit: Denver Police)

Dexter Lewis (credit: Denver Police)

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DENVER (CBS4) – If convicted he’ll be the first person to face the death penalty in Denver in years, and one day after the district attorney announced his decision in the case of Dexter Lewis, experts are skeptical a Denver jury would go along the capital punishment.

Lewis is accused of murdering five people last fall at Fero’s Bar and Grill on Colorado Boulevard. It was a horrific crime that took place last year. The owner and four customers were stabbed to death and the restaurant was set on fire. Now the news that it will be a possible death penalty case has emotions running high on both sides.

Prosecutors say it started with a robbery that robbed five families of their loved ones.

“These were really good people that were loving and caring,” said Karis Holman, friend of victim, 44-year-old Kellene “Kelly” Fallon. “She just really was excited for life and lived life to the fullest for sure.”

“This case is a case that cries out for the death penalty,” Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said.

It’s the first time prosecutors have sought capital punishment in Denver since 1999.

Attorney Philip Cherner is the attorney for Nathan Dunlap, the convicted Chuck E. Cheese killer who currently sits on death row. Cherner predicts a death sentence will be a tough sell to a Denver jury.

“I would think they’re going to be skeptical. I think the Denver population is urban, left of political center,” Cherner said.

He thinks the process will frustrate the public.

“They’ll worry about their tax dollars, how long it takes, how there’s no finality or closure for the victims’ families,” Cherner said.

Holman says she understands those arguments, but the pain of losing her best friend and the horror of the case has her thinking death row might be the right place for Lewis.

“One thing that I know, that I know for sure, is that by Dexter Lewis being charged with the death penalty he will never ever see the light of day,” Holman said.

There are two other suspects in the case, but they both accepted plea agreements that will send them to prison for life.

Lynell Hill Joseph Hill Dexter Lewis

The state of Colorado has not executed anyone since 1997.

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