We don't usually think of String Cheese Incident fans as homicidal. But last August, Lucas Piper was accused of being an exception to this rule, for allegedly trying to burn down a house full of people he met at an SCI show at Red Rocks.
Now, Piper has been sentenced to more than two decades in stir for the crime -- and Rachel Lewin, his companion at the scene, is due in court tomorrow regarding charges of attempted murder and arson.
According to Steve Davis of the Lakewood Police Department, who spoke to us for an August 2013 post, Piper, now 23, and Lewin, who was 21 at the time of the incident and is described by the First Judicial District DA's office as his girlfriend, attended the String Cheese Incident concert at Red Rocks on July 26 -- a gig that inspired a Westword slide show.
The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks in July 2013, as seen in a Westword slide show.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
Afterward, they were invited to the home of James Bartlett, who lives in a duplex on the 12300 block of West Viewpoint Drive -- not that they were pals. "Before that night, the home owner and Lewin and Piper were not acquainted with one another," Davis said. "They apparently met that night. Piper and Lewin were invited to the house and the concert by someone all of them knew who never showed up."
The 12300 block of West Viewpoint Drive in Lakewood.
Piper and Lewin are said to have arrived at the address around 1 a.m. on Saturday, July 27, with others filtering in afterward. Davis noted that Piper was introduced to Bartlett and others there not by his given name, but as "Sky."
Another witness -- Conner Wood, described in the report as a friend of Bartlett's -- told investigators that Piper subsequently got into a conversation that turned sour. "They were talking about different kinds of drugs," Davis allows, "and Wood said Sky didn't take kindly to it; he called Sky a rude person."
After that, Wood and a friend left for a while -- and upon his return, Davis quoted him as saying, "Sky was upset about something."
He was also threatening, the report maintains. Referencing Bartlett, Davis says "Sky was angry and made a statement about burning down his house."
At that point, Piper and Lewin left -- "and about fifteen minutes later," Davis continued, "the fire started."
The crowd at the July 26, 2013 String Cheese Incident show, from Westword's slide show.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
When West Metro Fire responded to the scene, shortly before 5 a.m., the duplex was engulfed in flames, with the blaze having apparently started on the front porch. Firefighters eventually managed to knock it down -- they described the damage as "moderate," while police on the scene called it "extensive" -- and determined that it was deliberately set.
As the flames climbed, Davis said, "there were four or five people in the home." However, the residents of the duplex were also around. For that reason, an arrest warrant written in Piper's name listed nine counts of attempted homicide on top of first-degree arson. (One person suffered minor injuries.)
Although Lewin was caught almost immediately, Piper managed to scamper away. But after police shared around the photo at the top of this post and noted that he was wanted for first-degree arson and nine counts of attempted murder (the number corresponding to the combined total of people in the duplex), he didn't remain free for long.
Cut to April 4, when Piper pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree murder -- extreme indifference, a charge that named all nine people who'd been in the duplex, plus first-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. And yesterday, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Lewin's fate has not yet been sealed. The First Judicial District DA's office notes that she faces accusations of attempted first-degree murder -- extreme indifference and arson. She'll return to court tomorrow, May 15.
Here are the booking photos for Piper and Lewin.
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More from our Schmuck of the Week archive: "Terry Ballowe found guilty of schmucky plan to torch his bed & breakfast."