Rachel Lewin sentencing: Arson after String Cheese Incident show inspired by fire twirling
Rachel Lewin. More photos below.
Now, Rachel Lewin, Piper's girlfriend, has been given a decade-plus jail jolt of her own -- and prosecutors say the whole thing started due to anger over a fire-twirling demonstration gone wrong.
As we reported in an August 2013 post, Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis told us that Piper and Lewin 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 after midnight 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 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 told us, "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."
What pissed him off? The First Judicial District DA's office maintains that folks had gathered around a bonfire in the backyard, where one of the residents "began to demonstrate his hobby of 'fire twirling' for the group."
In the process, three people were injured -- including Piper, who stormed off while saying he was going to burn the house down.
The crowd at the July 26, 2013 String Cheese Incident show, from Westword's slide show.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen
At that point, prosecutors say Piper and Lewin drove to a convenience store, where they bought some lighter fluid. Then they returned to the residence and set it on fire, using their purchase as an accelerant.
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.
For our original post, Davis said there were "four or five people in the home" and others nearby. Now, however, the DA's office states that nine people were sleeping inside. All of them managed to escape with their lives, but one person suffered minor injuries.
Although Lewin was caught almost immediately, Piper managed to scamper away. But after police shared his photo and noted that he was wanted for first-degree arson and nine counts of attempted murder, he didn't remain free for long.
Cut to April 4, when Piper pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree murder, a charge that named all nine people who'd been in the duplex, plus first-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Later that month, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
The next month, Lewin entered a guilty plea to the same charges, and earlier this week, she earned a sentence exactly half as long as Piper's: eleven years.
Here are the full-size booking photos for Piper and Lewin.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Schmuck of the Week archive: "Terry Ballowe found guilty of schmucky plan to torch his bed & breakfast."
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