DENVER (CBS4) – Convicted murderer Dexter Lewis was sentenced to five life sentences to be served consecutively on Wednesday with no chance of parole.
Last month, jurors decided that he should spend the rest of his life behind bars rather than face the death penalty for his role in a gruesome robbery turned murder. At his sentencing, victims shared their stories with the court.
Lewis, 25, remained without expression while families of the victims talked about how the murders impacted their lives.
Dozens attended the sentencing on Wednesday, eight spoke to the judge and two letters were read aloud in court. They recounted memories if their loved ones and the horror of the last three years after the horrific crime.
“Dealing with my own grief has been difficult, watching my sons has been gut wrenching, they’ve been angry, frustrated and it’s been awful to watch what they’ve been going through,” said victim Ross Richters’ mother Kay Richter.
“Everything she did she did with such enthusiasm and passion and she would get frustrated with us because she wanted to learn everything about the Bible and be as close to God because she relished that love and acceptance no matter what she had done,” said Karis Holman, a friend of a victim.
Lewis was convicted Aug. 10 of five counts of murder for stabbing five people to death in a bar robbery in 2012 that netted $170.
On Wednesday, the prosecution told the court that Lewis “has a long history of hurting people” and that “this was pure evil.”
In all the five victims suffered more than 80 stab wounds with the prosecution stating, “We see senseless crimes, this is the definition of that.”
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.
Family members of the victims said that every day is difficult.
“I forgive this individual for his acts and I pray he lives out a long, long torturous life,” said Todd Parge, who had been in a relationship with Theresa Beasley for 18 years.
“This senseless, cowardly, vicious act has crippled the lives of all who loved her,” said Zinaida Pohl, family member of victim Daria Pohl.
The Denver DA had sought the death penalty for Lewis but jurors decided to spare his life.
Lewis was found guilty on 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.
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.
During the trial, defense attorneys urged the jury to consider Lewis’ traumatic childhood that included a history of physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol use, and frequent violence within the family but also as part of gang activity. The defense said it all happened while the defendant was a baby and toddler.
Lewis’ lawyers stated nothing excuses the murders of five people, but Lewis did not choose to be born into a life of lawlessness and chaos.
Under Colorado law, juries must unanimously agree to impose death sentences. In this case, at least one juror sided with Lewis’ defense team that his abusive childhood was a mitigating factor in the case.
After the sentencing the defense said that Lewis will talk about the sentence “because we plan to appeal.”
In addition to the five life sentences, the judge handed down 180 years for other charges like arson and aggravated robbery. He was also ordered to pay $286,587.32 in restitution.