Ken Mackey Guilty in Murder of Alleged Coke Dealer Involving Samurai Sword

In December 2013, we told you about the arrest of Kenneth Mackey for homicide in an incident that left two men dead.

The location? An area that recently gained attention for being arguably Aurora's most dangerous block.

Turns out the crime also had a link to the police shooting of Sharod Kindell, a tale told in a recent Westword cover story.

Now, Mackey, a habitual criminal initially implicated in the 2000 death of Frank Scalise, has been found guilty of both murder and attempted murder in a case prosecutors say involved the attempted ripoff of a cocaine dealer that devolved into gunplay and a battle with a samurai sword.

Oh yeah: Mackey is said to have been wearing a GPS ankle monitor at the time of the killing.

Photos, details and more below.

As we've reported, Mackey, 43, boasts an arrest record that goes back to at least 1990 — but his most notorious previous crime involved a 2000 car jacking that appeared to have led to the death by heart attack of Scalise, age 69.

Here's an excerpt from our 2000 article about Scalise's death:
Milda Scalise had no idea that March 15 would be her last day with her 69-year-old husband, Frank. The two of them had eaten lunch at the Washington Park Grille and then gone to see Fantasia 2000. "We always had a lot of fun together," she says. On the way home, they stopped at their neighborhood Safeway, at East Evans Avenue and South Downing Street. They checked through the line and were walking toward the door. Suddenly Frank "left the cart and went running," Milda says. "I couldn't understand why. I saw him tackle this man and money flying everywhere. Some construction men went over to help him. A woman came out from behind the counter. She was very excited and she said to move back."

Scalise had helped foil a robbery. Police arrived. The man Scalise had tackled was arrested. Frank still lay on the floor. "He died in the exit," Milda says.

For Kenneth Mackey, aka Kenny Ray Samson, it had been a busy day. Earlier, a man matching his description had accosted Derek Koch on Bellaire Street at 12th Avenue. "Get out of your car and leave your wallet or I'll shoot you," the man said, according to Koch. The man then grabbed the wallet, got into the car and sped away.

Shown a photo lineup, Koch tentatively identified the mugger as Mackey. The man in the photograph had the same cold eyes as the man who stole his car, he said. A little later, Mackey watched outside the Safeway as a customer approached the service counter. When the clerk opened the drawer, Mackey pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head, ran in, pushed aside the clerk and grabbed the money. As he tried to get away, he was confronted by Frank Scalise, along with three other men. They wrestled him to the ground. "I have a gun," Mackey yelled.

Mackey has several petty crimes on his record. He told police he'd robbed the Safeway for money for a place to stay. Four of Koch's credit cards were found in his pocket. There was no gun.
Although Mackey was initially charged with murder in the Scalise matter, that count was dismissed, leaving a robbery conviction that kept him in jail until February 2013.

But within months of his release, he was already back in trouble: On May 31 of that year, he was hit with two attempted murder counts, as well as a previous-offender gun-possession offense.

In November 2013, Mackey pleaded not guilty to those charges and was freed on a $100,000 bond — hence the aforementioned ankle monitor.

Later that month, on November 26, Mackey found more trouble. The incident took place on the 1400 block of Lima Street in Aurora, an area captured in the following interactive graphic. If you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."

View Larger Map
If this area looks familiar, it should. In a March 2015 post, we pointed out that three homicides had taken place on the block in approximately six months.

Yet what took place in 2013 was violent even by the stretch's notoriously bloody standards.

What happened? At approximately 2:45 a.m. on the 26th, according to the 18th Judicial District DA's office, two men forced their way into the home of Martel Cornelius Thomas, 65.

The two were later identified as Mackey and Greg McCoy, a 46-year-old mentioned in our Sharod Kindell feature. McCoy was the common-law husband of Sherri Landrum, mother of Sharod; he was shot by Denver police officers while inside his car in January.

The following photos from Thomas's online obituary show him in his later years, as well as during a stint in the armed services — and the post includes images from his funeral, which was conducted with full military honors.

However, the DA's office maintains that Thomas also dealt cocaine — and this particular line is the reason Mackey and McCoy were there, prosecutors maintain.

"Mackey and McCoy knew that Thomas was a cocaine dealer and attempted to steal any drugs, cash and valuables inside the home," the office states in a release.

These scheme went very wrong very quickly.

The DA's office says Mackey and McCoy fired a couple of shots through the window of Thomas's apartment, then broke through the door, guns still blazing.

Thomas wasn't alone; an unnamed woman was also present. She's said to have taken cover while Thomas grabbed a gun of his own and fired a shot that killed McCoy.

At that point, Mackey found a samurai sword on a wall of the living room and used it in a continuing fight with Thomas, prosecutors say.

Shortly thereafter, Thomas managed to run out of the home, but he collapsed in a nearby alley as Mackey gave chase.

In the end, Thomas was hit by three shots, with one to his chest proving fatal.

Rather than splitting at that point, Mackey returned to the apartment, prosecutors say, and demanded that the woman inside tell him where to find the keys to Thomas's car. He allegedly took the keys, $80 from her purse and some cocaine, after which he used Thomas's gun to shoot her in the left breast.

She survived and Mackey was rounded up a short time later.

This past week, a jury convicted Mackey of two first-degree murder counts, an attempted-murder beef, and several other charges related to robbery, burglary and car theft.

He's next expected in court on July 2 for a hearing on habitual-criminal counts — common sentence multipliers that could result in him staying behind bars for the rest of his life.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts