CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – The man accused of shooting and killing a popular doctor and injuring two women pleaded guilty in exchange for life in prison on Thursday.
Kevin Lyons, who admitted to shooting and killing Dr. Ken Atkinson almost a year ago, initially pleaded not guilty to 14 counts in March but changed his plea in court on Thursday.
He was sentenced to life in prison but 352 years without the possibility of parole. In the plea agreement, Lyons avoided the death penalty in Arapahoe District Court.
Lyons was very somber when he appeared in court to enter his guilty plea.
The shooting happened April 4, 2016 in Lyons’ front yard. Atkinson ran out of his home to stop Lyons from shooting his wife but instead he was shot in the head and died. The second woman, Laurie Juergens, was shot in the face while trying to help.
Shortly after his arrest, Lyons had outbursts in the courtroom and made outrageous statements.
In a call to CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger shortly after the murder, Lyons said he was not on drugs or alcohol at the time and had no idea he had killed anyone. In that conversation he also said that he had a spiritual-related incident in a church, but did not indicate if that had a role in the shootings.
Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler told reporters after the hearing that the guilty plea came on the final day before he was due to announce whether he would seek the death penalty in this case.
“I am not hasty in making this decision. I take the discretion that I’m given to set the machinery of government in motion to take another person’s life extremely seriously,” said Brauchler.
Kleenex was used by family members of victims present in the courtroom for the guilty plea.
Formal sentencing is scheduled for June, at which time testimony from victims and their family members is expected to be heard.