Nevada Supreme Court rules man suspected of 1984 Aurora family hammer murders should be extradited sooner

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This July 27, 2018 photo provided by the Nevada Department of Corrections shows Christopher Ewing, an inmate at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center. Ewing is serving a sentence for attempted murder and other crimes. Ewing who was convicted of attacking a couple with an ax handle in their bedroom is being charged with killing four people with a hammer in suburban Denver over 30 years ago, authorities announced Friday, Aug.10, 2018. (Nevada Department of Corrections via AP)

AURORA | The Nevada Supreme Court on Monday ruled to speed up the extradition of a man accused of murdering three members of an Aurora family with a hammer in 1984.

Nevada’s highest court granted a motion to expedite the extradition of Alex Christopher Ewing, 58, to Colorado to face multiple charges of murder and sexual assault, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office.

Ewing is suspected of murdering Bruce, Debra and Melissa Bennett with a hammer in their Aurora home in 1984. A fourth Bennett family member, then-3-year-old Vanessa, was also beaten in the attack, but survived.

The case went unsolved for more than 30 years until last summer, when investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation linked Ewing to the crime through new DNA evidence. 

Ewing has also been charged for sexually assaulting and brutally murdering a 50-year-old woman from Lakewood a week before the Bennett killings.

Ewing has been fighting his extradition since a Nevada judge last month ruled he should be moved from his current place of incarceration in Nevada to Colorado to face trial.

Monday’s ruling nixes Ewing’s protests. However, Ewing will likely remain in Nevada for several more months, the recent court order indicated.

Ewing and his lawyers now have until April 15 to “file and serve a single opening brief,” according to the order. After that, the court will move forward with the process “as permitted by its docket.”

“We will continue to aggressively and appropriately pursue the return of Ewing to our jurisdiction,” George Brauchler, district attorney for the 18th judicial district, said in a statement. “Delays will not deter us from pursuing justice for these innocent victims, despite the 34 years that have elapsed since their murders.”

Ewing has been behind bars in Nevada since the summer of 1984 after he escaped there while being transported to Kingman, Arizona, from St. George, Utah, for a court appearance on attempted murder and burglary charges. His sentence runs through 2037 but he would be eligible for parole in 2021.

Nevada court records show a jury found Ewing, under the name Alex C. Ewing, was guilty of escaping from the custody of two Arizona sheriff’s deputies at a gas station in Henderson, Nevada, southeast of Las Vegas on Aug. 9, 1984. He entered an unlocked home and severely beat a woman and her husband with an ax handle in their bedroom. Two young boys were asleep in other rooms in the house.

Ewing, then 23, was arrested again two days later about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away by park rangers at Lake Mead.

The Colorado killings in January 1984 followed two other attacks in Aurora that either involved or were suspected of involving a hammer.

On Jan. 4, 1984, a couple in Aurora woke up to see a man in their bedroom who hit each of them with a hammer before fleeing. They both survived.

Late on Jan. 9 or early on Jan 10, a flight attendant was beaten, possibly with a hammer, and sexually assaulted after she pulled into the garage of her home in Aurora. She also survived.

Sentinel staff writer Brandon Johansson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.