JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - Nate Vernon Fischer, a Lakewood man who admitted to brutally killing Howard Benjamin Adler in 2012, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday.
A Jefferson County jury deliberated for just three hours to reach a unanimous verdict against Fischer, 26, after a six day trial.
Wheat Ridge police said Adler was found dead at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2012. He was lying in a pool of blood on the driveway of his home on the 4600 block of Miller Street.
Adler had been ambushed and stabbed 31 times in the back, shoulders, neck and head, investigators said. He had just arrived home from his job at a Denver restaurant and had parked his car in the driveway when he was viciously attacked by a masked man.
Police said Adler was still holding his night's earnings and car keys in his hand when he was attacked.
By the next morning, evidence led investigators to Fischer.
After Fischer stabbed Howard Adler to death, he purchased bleach to use in attempting to destroy DNA evidence on the clothing he had worn, according to officers.
Prosecutors said Fischer then drove to Fort Collins and to the Red Feather Lakes area. He hiked to a remote area where he buried the knife and the bleached clothing that was later recovered and linked Fischer to the murder.
Fischer admitted that he killed Adler, but claimed that he'd been encouraged or goaded by a woman with whom the victim had a child. Adler and the woman were involved in a heated custody battle over the 3-year-old boy.
During the trial, Fischer described in detail numerous conversations that he claimed to have had with the woman in the months prior to the murder, in which they discussed where, when and how to kill Adler.
According to Fischer, the pair mapped out escape routes from Adler's home where they were least likely to be detected by police or security cameras.
On the night of Nov. 17, Fischer said he acted alone when he sneaked up and began stabbing Adler from behind.
Fischer's defense was that he was very naive, immature and loved the woman who was the mother of Adler's child. The defense suggested that Fischer was simply a pawn in an elaborate scheme to end Adler's life.
"This was a brutal, cold-hearted and calculated murder that ended the life of Mr. Adler, a father, a son, a friend," said District Attorney Pete Weir. "This case is a perfect example of how teamwork brings justice for victims. Together with the Wheat Ridge Police Department, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and Larimer County law enforcement, our DA investigators and prosecutors brought closure for the victim’s love ones and for our community."
Adler's parents and friends were in the courtroom when the verdict and sentence was delivered.
Wheat Ridge Police: Arrest made in stabbing death of Miller Street homeowner: http://ch7ne.ws/1dc16vA