CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4/AP)– Testimony began Tuesday in the trial for Alex Ewing, the man accused of using a hammer to kill four people in Aurora. It’s been nearly four decades since the gruesome murders of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa in Aurora in January 1984.

Alex Christopher Ewing in arapahoe county court

(credit: CBS)

The Bennett’s 3-year-old daughter, Vanessa, was severely injured but survived.

READ MORE: JeffCo Public Health Seeking Court Order Supporting Enforcement Of COVID Mandates

Bruce Bennett’s mother, Connie Bennett, testified at trial, saying she found his bloody body inside the home, next to the kitchen.

Ewing is also charged with killing Patricia Louise Smith in Lakewood about a week before the Bennett murders. He is scheduled to go on trial in that case in October.

READ MORE: Glenwood Springs Businesses Hopeful Relief Money Can Help Them Recover From Problematic Summer

(credit: Bennett family)

Ewing was identified as a suspect in 2018 through DNA evidence while in prison in Nevada, where he was convicted of attacking a couple with an ax handle in their bedroom. The results of a DNA sample taken from Ewing in was entered into a national database and linked with DNA developed from evidence taken from the scenes of the Colorado killings.

Patricia Louise Smith (credit: CBS)

Ewing fought extradition but was sent to Colorado to face the charges last year. He has pleaded not guilty. Ewing’s lawyer says other evidence points to multiple people being involved and people other than Ewing being responsible. The trial is scheduled for three weeks.

MORE NEWS: Stag Hollow Fire In Larimer County Now Fully Contained

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Jennifer McRae