Crime

Photos: 35 shocking Colorado murders — and the ones targeted with the death penalty

Last July, we told you about the decision by prosecutors at the Denver DA's office to seek the death penalty against Dexter Lewis, charged with killing five people at Fero's Bar & Grill in October 2012. Lewis's attorneys are reportedly asking the judge in the case to take capital punishment off the table with the support of CU professor and death-penalty opponent Michael Radelet.

Last year, Radelet put together a letter to Governor John Hickenlooper's office that highlighted studies he'd conducted arguing against the death penalty, with one section pointing out how inconsistently (and rarely) it's been sought in Colorado even for the most shocking crimes. Look below to learn more about 35 Colorado murders, whether or not prosecutors asked for capital punishment and what ultimately happened, featuring text from Radelet's letter.

1. Alexander, Jeffrey Kirk. Denver. March, 1992. Convicted of killing his girlfriend's mother, brother and niece. Alexander broke into the victims' home and waited for two hours before the victims arrived, when he then shot them. Alexander also shot and critically injured a 6-year-old nephew of the former girlfriend.

Death penalty: Sought

2. Anaya, Steven. Denver. April & July, 1999. Anaya pleaded guilty to second degree murder for killing Ronnie Regalado in July 1999, and to manslaughter for the death of Ruben Macias Morales in July 1999. In 2002, Anaya was found guilty of killing a Denver restaurant patron in April 1999. All three murders were committed while Anaya was age 17.

Death penalty: Not sought

Arguello, Damian M. Adams County. January, 2005. A cocaine addict, Arguello was permitted to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence for killing his wife and 16-month-old son. Former Adams County District Attorney Don called it "the most horrific" crime he had ever seen in his 18 years as a prosecutor. The victims were all Hispanic.

Death penalty: Not sought

4. Bell, Michael. Boulder. August, 1990. After escaping from prison, Bell murdered a convenience store clerk in Broomfield, and later shot and killed three men in Lefthand Canyon in Boulder. Bell eventually pleaded guilty to all four murders and was sentenced to LWOP.

Death penalty: Sought

5. Brown, Edward. Denver. March & June, 1991. Sentenced to two LWOP terms after pleading guilty to two murders. The first victim was caught in a cross-fire, and Brown killed the second victim for threatening to "snitch" on him for that murder. Later, Brown was acquitted of a third murder, but convicted of a fourth.

Death penalty: Not sought

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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