DENVER (AP) — Two brothers are headed to prison for their role in the killings of five people at a Denver bar that authorities say was then set on fire in an attempted cover-up.
Joseph Hill, 28, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday after pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in the October 2012 slayings. Lynell Hill, 26, was sentenced to 70 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count each of second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and first-degree arson, The Denver Post reported (http://bit.ly/JO2wpk ).
The sentences were part of plea deals with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty. The brothers also agreed to testify against a third suspect being prosecuted in the deaths at Fero's Bar & Grill, Dexter Lewis.
Lewis is accused of fatally stabbing five people around closing time at the neighborhood bar. One victim was stabbed 21 times. Investigators say the five were killed in the course of a botched robbery motivated by Lynell Hill's need for money to pay for an unrelated court case. The men allegedly got away with just $170.
They also are accused of setting the bar on fire to cover up the slayings. A fourth person who went to the bar with them, an informant for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, hasn't been charged. Demarea Harris is considered a witness. He told investigators he thought the men were going to the bar to just shoot pool and drink beer.
Killed were bar owner Young Suk Fero, 63, a South Korean immigrant who lived in Aurora; Daria M. Pohl, 21, a college student and waitress from Denver; Kellene Fallon, 44, of Denver; Ross Richter, 29, a mountain lover from Overland Park, Kan., who worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado; and Tereasa Beesley, 45, the owner of another Denver bar who grew up in Sidney, Mont.
Lewis' public defenders say his original lawyers failed to defend him adequately, allowing Hills' lawyers to unfairly portray him as the main player in the slayings. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Lewis. It's the first time the Denver district attorney's office has sought capital punishment in 13 years.