Man Sentenced for Girlfriend’s Murder

GOLDEN, Colo. (Mar. 4, 2024) – Cole Lewis (DOB 10-3-2001) was sentenced to 57 years in prison on Friday for the murder of his nineteen-year-old girlfriend, Laila Combes, in March of last year. On Jan. 16, 2024, Lewis pleaded guilty to Murder in the Second Degree and Assault in the Second Degree, Crime of Violence.  As a result of the plea, the parties stipulated to a sentencing range of 55-64 years in prison.

At sentencing, it required two courtrooms to accommodate Laila’s friends and family who were donned in yellow shirts featuring her photo. During an emotionally charged afternoon, one by one, Laila’s loved ones described her as a remarkable young woman with a promising future – a shining example of love and kindness whose positivity and warmth impacted countless lives. Urging the judge to impose the maximum 64-year sentence, both parents expressed the profound loss caused by a preventable tragedy. Still, Laila’s mother emphasized Laila’s forgiving nature, stating, “Laila would want us all to move forward.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Chandler Grant described what led to Laila’s death as two young people who were in a tumultuous relationship, which culminated in the victim asking Lewis for space and him reacting with rage. Grant recognized Lewis’ young age but stressed that the brutal and violent nature of Laila’s death warranted the maximum sentence. “Stopping someone’s ability to breathe for extended periods is intimate and calculated,” said Grant. Further arguing that after he strangled her, instead of calling 911 or attempting to save her life, in a final act of violence, he ruthlessly stabbed her in the neck. Grant argued, “This was a killing done with a purpose, a killing done with rage.”

In his decision, Judge Ryan Loewer noted “the senseless brutality” and unneeded loss of life while acknowledging the young age of the defendant. The judge ultimately sentenced Lewis to 48 years on count four (Murder in the Second Degree) and nine years on count five (Assault in the Second Degree), to be served consecutively, for a total of 57 years in prison. 

Factual Summary:

In the afternoon of Mar. 31, 2023, Agents from the Lakewood Police Department responded to a welfare check on a vehicle parked outside the Panera Bread restaurant at 14740 W Colfax Ave. The car was severely damaged and inoperable and had what appeared to be two occupants inside covered in blankets. The responding Agent ultimately uncovered a gruesome scene inside the car and discovered that underneath one of the blankets was the deceased body of nineteen-year-old Laila Combes. Lewis told police they had gotten into a “huge fight.” Lewis was placed in custody and taken for questioning.  

Lewis later told police that he and Combes were both working at the Garbanzo’s restaurant near the Colorado Mills Mall and after their shift on Mar. 30, 2023, Lewis drove Combes home. During the drive, Combes reportedly told Lewis she wanted to be in an “open relationship,” which was very upsetting to Lewis. Lewis dropped Combes off and returned to Garbanzos. Lewis admitted he was upset over the news and began drinking tequila while he was working. Lewis also told police he was cutting his forearm at work, which prompted his coworkers to close the restaurant early that night. However, Lewis simply returned to his vehicle and continued to drink.

At about 11:00 pm, Lewis drove back to Combes’ apartment so they could talk. According to Lewis, while in the apartment parking lot, he broke the tequila bottle into pieces, retrieved the top part of the broken bottle, and brought it back to his car. Lewis admitted he was angry at Combes for wanting to date other men and was experiencing “blinding rage,” and he “blacked out.”

Lewis told police he remembered he was driving, and at one point, Combes jerked the wheel, and they crashed into a tree. Lewis said the car was severely damaged, but he was able to drive it back to the Garbanzos parking lot. Lewis admitted to police that at some point, he remembered strangling Combes and that afterward, she was breathing “weird,” so he cut her neck with the broken tequila bottle.

The autopsy later revealed additional stab wounds on the face, neck and chest. Lewis has remained in custody since his arrest.


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