CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – Residents of a Centennial neighborhood described to a courtroom on Monday the terror they experienced during a fatal shooting last year.
The testimony was given during a formal sentencing hearing for the shooter, Kevin Lyons, who killed a popular doctor and shot and injured two women on April 4, 2016.
Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour called Dr. Ken Atkinson, who died tried to help Lyons’ wife after she was shot, as a “real life superhero.” He sentenced Lyons to life in prison plus 352 years and no opportunity for parole.
Lyons, 47, avoided the death penalty by accepting a plea deal last month for charges that included first-degree murder.
Jeanne Atkinson, the doctor’s wife, spoke to the court Monday standing a few feet away from Lyons. She described him as belligerent and a self consuming man — a “monster” — who didn’t care about his victims.
“Ken didn’t just get in this man’s way. Kevin Lyons chased him down, shooting at him multiple times. And finally, from less than five feet away — and with Ken looking at him — Kevin Lyons shot Ken in the head,” she said. “What kind of hatred and self pity would drive a man to brutally murder his innocent nextdoor neighbor of 10 years?”
Laurie Juergens told the court she was gardening in her front yard on the day of the crime when she saw Lyons’ wife come out of her house across the street looking deeply troubled. Juergens told her to come into her house moments before Lyons began firing a gun from his house.
“I lifted my head and saw that Liz had been shot in the back as she ran to me for safety,” Juergens said. “She was standing just feet away from me in my yard, her hands trying to contain the blood that flowed freely from her chest.”
Juergens said she “didn’t even realize it for a brief moment, but I had also been shot, even before I could take one step to safety.”
“I was very possibly shot by the very same bullet that entered Liz’s back and exited her chest,” she said of the bullet that hit her in the face.
Juergens told the court Lyons began to fire at her multiple times and that she barely escaped from a man who was “determined to kill me.” Soon afterwards, Lyons shot and killed Atkinson when Atkinson tried to come to the aid of Lyons’ wife.
Atkinson, 66, has been described by family, friends and neighbors and even former patients of his in almost saintly terms.
“Kevin Lyons stole from our community, he robbed us of a man on integrity, a man who cared for his family, his friends, his patients and even strangers,” Jeanne Atkinson said.
Lyons’ lawyer said he was delusional on the day of the shooting due to a previous car crash, substance abuse and caffeine.
“Mr. Lyons cannot put into words the sorrow and shame he feels,” James Karbach said.