DENVER - Police say three men brutally stabbed to death five people and torched a Denver bar over a $170 robbery.
The revelation came Friday during a preliminary hearing in Denver court, where prosecutors began presenting evidence to a judge who will decide if it is sufficient to make three defendants -- Dexter Lewis and two brothers, Joseph and Lynell Hill -- stand trial for murder.
The frenzied killings of the four women and a man at Fero's Bar and Grill in October was preceded by a chilling threat by Lewis, an investigator testified.
"I'm going to get them b******," Lewis angrily said to a man who later informed police, Denver Police Det. Mark Crider testified.
Firefighters responding to an early morning fire on Oct.17 found the five bodies inside the burning bar on South Colorado Boulevard.
Those killed were Bar owner Young Fero, 63; Daria M. Pohl, 21; Kellene Fallon, 44; Ross Richter, 29; and Tereasa Beesley, 45. The Denver Medical Examiner said all five victims died of multiple stab wounds.
Denver police said they believe the fire was set to cover up the killings and robbery was the motive in the slayings.
Less than one day after the bodies were discovered, police arrested the three men at two different area hotels.
Crider said Demarea Harris, an informant for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, helped police unravel the case.
The following testimony is what Harris told police, according to Crider.
The informant told police he was with the three defendants smoking marijuana and listening to music at Joseph Hill's apartment on East Kentucky Avenue on the night of the killings. He said he had known Joseph Hill a couple weeks and he had known Lewis a couple months.
After partying at the apartment, Harris said he and the three men got in a car and drove to Fero's Bar.
The informant said he sensed something was up when he spotted an Ironman mask and an Incredible Hulk mask and duct tape on the floor of the car.
"(Harris) made a comment about it being Halloween. There was no response" from the other men, Crider testified.
Then, as Lewis and Harris walked up to the front door of Fero's, Harris told police that "Lewis pulled down his shirt sleeve over his hand and used that hand to open the door."
Harris and Lewis began playing pool in the bar.
Harris said Lewis was angry with two women at the bar.
Lewis pointed to a white woman drinking at the bar and said, "She had kicked him and his girlfriend out of their apartment," Harris told police.
Lewis said the Asian woman -- bar owner Young Fero -- had once booted him out of the bar, the informant said.
The informant told police that Lewis was "mean-mugging" and " mad-dogging" about the women, Crider recalled.
"I'm going to get them b*******," Lewis vowed, the informant told police.
Under questioning by a defense attorney, Crider said "mad-dogging" was street slang for glaring at someone.
Harris went out the back door to smoke with some of the bar patrons.
"They were nice people," the informant told Crider.
As Harris went to use the bathroom, he heard the rear door of the bar close. He could hear people talking in the bar.
Harris came back into the bar to find Joseph Hill wearing the Hulk mask and his brother, Lynell, wearing the Iron Man mask.
The brothers were armed with handguns, and the brothers and Lewis were all wearing gloves, the informant said.
Lynell Hill was holding the Asian woman down on the floor, while Joseph Hill was running around looking for the cash register, Harris said.
Lewis was beating a woman on the dance floor and he was armed with a knife, Harris said.
"They put everyone on the ground," the informant told police. "They were trying to control everybody, yelling about wallets, ID's and credit cards."
"They pointed a gun and yelled. 'Get the tape, get the tape,'" Harris told Crider, referring to duct tape in the car.
Harris told police he dropped to the floor, too, because they were pointing guns at him. He said he saw the men stab several people in the bar, Crider testified.
When asked how many times they were stabbed, Crider said, "Numerous. (Harris) used a stabbing motion over and over and over."
Harris said Lewis also stabbed the Juke Box.
The informant said that Joseph Hill stabbed the man at the bar and then he passed the knife to Lewis, who stabbed the women over and over. Then Lewis passed the knife back to Joseph Hill.
Lewis told Joseph Hill to kill the bar owner, saying "They couldn't have any witnesses," Harris told Crider. "(Joseph Hill) went down, slit her throat and stabbed her twice in the head," Crider quoted the informant's account.
Harris told police he jumped up and ran out the back door to a nearby Kings Soopers. As Harris was leaving, he said he saw the three men breaking bottles and pouring alcohol on the victims.
Harris told police he got a call on his cellphone from Lewis' cellphone. It was Joseph Hill calling. The three men drove to King Soopers to pick Harris up.
Harris said he noticed the strong smell of gasoline in the car. Harris told police Joseph Hill was concerned about his fingerprints being on the gas can. The men told Harris they had torched the bar, Crider testified.
All four men returned to Joseph Hill's apartment.
Lewis and the Hill brothers "started destroying evidence ... and split up the money," Harris said.'
"They started cutting up gloves, putting bleach on items and burning items in a small pot," the informant said.
Lewis' girlfriend picked him up and they gave the informant a ride back to his hotel.
Crider said informant told them, "Mr. Lewis kissed him and said he loved him and said, 'Blood in, blood out.'"
The informant told police he was stunned.
"These were innocent people," Harris said, according to Crider. "If they were gangsters killing gangsters, I wouldn't be here talking to you, but these were good people.”
Detectives asked Harris why the men pulled the robbery.
Harris told police that Joseph Hill wanted to get money to help pay for a court case his brother was facing. They decided to rob Fero's because Joseph Hill was familiar with the bar and knew there were not a lot of people inside.
How much did the men get from the robbery?
About $170, Harris told police.
One of the handguns used in the robbery was a .357-caliber purchased two days prior at a Bass Pro Shops, Crider said.
Under questioning, Joseph Hill eventually told police what happened, Crider testified.
Joseph Hill told police he went behind the bar and used the butt of his gun to break the security camera.
"The cash register was on the floor broken apart. It was consistent with what Joseph Hill told me," Crider said.
Police later recovered a knife, gun, two masks and a red plastic gas can, Crider said.
Testimony ended Friday with the judge continuing the preliminary hearing to March 15.