CENTENNIAL — A former Nevada inmate accused of using a hammer to kill four people in the Denver area is going on trial nearly four decades after the slayings.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Friday for Alex Ewing in the deaths of Bruce and Debra Bennett and their 7-year-old daughter Melissa in Aurora in January 1984. The Bennett’s 3-year-old daughter, Vanessa, was severely injured but survived.

Ewing is also charged with killing Patricia Louise Smith about a week before in Lakewood. He is scheduled to go on trial in that case in October.

Ewing was identified as a suspect in 2018 through DNA evidence while in prison in Nevada, where he was convicted of attacking a couple with an ax handle in their bedroom. The results of a DNA sample taken from Ewing in was entered into a national database and linked with DNA developed from evidence taken from the scenes of the Colorado killings.

Ewing fought extradition but was sent to Colorado to face the charges in 2020. He has pleaded not guilty.

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