GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– The jury was not able to reach a unanimous decision in Paige Birgfeld’s murder trial. Jurors could not agree on whether Lester Jones was guilty or not in the June 2007 murder of the mother of three.
Jones was arrested in November 2014 for the murder of Birgfeld. The trial began in July. After hundreds of hours of testimony and nearly a week of deliberation, the jury could not reach a verdict in the case.
When the judge asked Friday afternoon if there was a likelihood of progress toward a verdict, the jury foreman answered, “No.” The judge declared a mistrial.
Five of the jurors talked to CBS4 after the mistrial was announced and said that the vote was 9 guilty and three not guilty. Although everyone felt Jones killed Birgfeld, three of the jurors could not get over reasonable doubt.
Jurors did agree that the lack of physical evidence was hard to ignore but that the circumstantial case presented in court was very convincing.
Authorities claimed Jones killed Birgfeld, dumped her body and torched her car. He was on trial for first-degree murder, kidnapping and arson.
Medical professionals testified in the trial that they couldn’t tell for sure how Birgfeld died. Her skeletal remains were found in 2012, in a dry creek bed in neighboring Delta County county.
Birgfeld’s father, Frank Birgfeld, continues to grieve for his daughter after weeks sitting in the courtroom listening to the gruesome details of his daughter’s death.
“I’m not sure what this closure business is that people swing around. I’m not convinced what it is. It’s not like I forget my daughter because I have closure,” said Frank.
After the mistrial was declared, one of the jurors looked to Birgfeld’s family in the courtroom and apologized that they couldn’t give the family a guilty verdict after such emotional testimony and forensic evidence presented during the trial.
Investigators say Birgfeld, twice divorced and living in Grand Junction about 200 miles west of Denver, led a double life as a paid escort with many unsavory clients.
Jones was arrested after detectives questioned — and ruled out — at least eight other men, including Birgfeld’s former husband and several other clients.
The case was built mostly on circumstantial evidence. Missing evidence and mistakes made by detectives were key to the defense. Despite those revelations in court, Frank Birgfeld believes the investigators did a good job trying to solve his daughter’s murder.
“I’m just grateful they brought this case. There are a lot of people who would say, ‘Look at the resources, look at the time, look at the money spent.’ They might have passed and they didn’t give this a shot. We will see what comes out of it,” said Frank.
On Wednesday, jurors asked the judge to listen to 7½ hours of interrogation tapes of Jones with detectives but were still unable to reach a unanimous decision on his guilt or innocence.
The district attorney has indicated that he will refile charges and try the defendant again. Jones will remain in custody on $2 million bond.
Frank would like to see a guilty verdict in his daughter’s death. He has started to prepare for another trial.
“It’s like reading a big book. You get to the back and somebody has ripped out the last two or three chapters,” said Frank.