Nevada court told inmate sought in Colorado deserved lawyer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A lawyer is arguing that a Nevada prison inmate facing death penalty charges in four 1984 Denver-area killings should have been given a lawyer to help him fight extradition.
Nevada Supreme Court documents filed Tuesday say a state court judge improperly rejected Alexander Christopher Ewing’s request last October for an appointed attorney and ordered Ewing transferred in custody to Colorado.
Ewing’s extradition has been delayed pending his appeal to the Nevada high court.
Attorney Martin Wiener of Reno filed the arguments for Ewing, although he is not appointed and is not being paid. Wiener declined Wednesday to comment.
The court filing argues that Ewing had a right to demand an attorney and that the extradition order to send him from Nevada to Colorado is flawed.
Ewing, 58, has been in prison in Nevada since 1984 for his conviction in an ax handle attack on a Las Vegas-area couple after escaping from sheriffs’ deputies while being transported to Arizona on an attempted murder charge.
Ewing, then 23, was arrested two days later by park rangers at Lake Mead.
Colorado authorities say DNA links to the January 1984 hammer slaying of Patricia Louise Smith in Lakewood in an attack that also injured a mother and grandmother.
Ewing’s DNA is also believed to be a match with a hammer attack several weeks later that killed three family members at their home in Aurora. Bruce Bennett, 27, Debra Bennett, 26, and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa died. The couple’s 3-year-old daughter was severely injured.
Colorado officials say Ewing has a criminal history dating to 1979 with other arrests in Florida and California.
Authorities found the possible DNA match almost a year ago during a routine search of databases. Ewing was identified after former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt instituted a policy to retroactively test inmates’ DNA.
Ewing told Colorado investigators who interviewed after the match that he lived in the Denver area in 1984 and did various construction jobs, according to court documents.