DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver jury has decided that there were aggravating factors in the murders of five people inside a Denver bar, making Dexter Lewis eligible for the death penalty. The jury completed phase one of sentencing in the case on Wednesday and will begin phase two on Monday to determine if there were mitigating factors. There are three phases of sentencing in the case.
The jury must decide if Lewis will face death or life in prison for the murders. The killings happened during a botched robbery and then Lewis attempted to cover up the crime by setting the place on fire with the victims still inside. The jury must agree there is a reason Lewis should be sentenced to death.
Lewis, 25, remained without expression throughout his capital murder trial. The jury got the case earlier this month.
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. Prosecutors say Lewis and the other co-defendants went to the bar to rob it but it turned into a brutal murder scene.
He was found guilty five counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, five counts of first-degree murder-felony murder, five counts of criminal attempt to commit robbery and one count of arson. His family had no comment as they left court Monday morning.
The two other co-defendants, brothers Lynell and Joseph Hill, pleaded guilty to the killings two years ago after agreeing to testify against Lewis.
The victims include 53-year-old Young Suk Fero, an Aurora woman who owned the bar; Daria M. Pohl, 21, of Denver; Kellene Fallon, 44, of Denver; Ross Richter, 29, of Overland Park, Kansas; and Tereasa Beesley, 45, of Denver. Fero’s daughter cried in court as the verdict was read.
The defense says Denver police initially had no witnesses and suspects in the murders. 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 prosecution defended their star witness saying he had no motive to come forward to police other than his conscience.
Lewis was found guilty on five counts of first degree murder, five counts of aggravated robbery, and one count of arson.
The case is the first capital punishment case in Denver in more than a decade. The three sentencing phases will determine whether Lewis will be sentenced to death or face life in prison. In Colorado the death penalty is carried by lethal injection.