Jury selection begins in Lester Jones retrial

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Jury selection in the retrial of Lester Jones was scheduled to begin on Monday.

Jones is accused of killing mother of three, Paige Birgfeld, nearly a decade ago.

After more than a month of testimony this summer, the murder trial ended with a hung jury this past September. He remains behind bars.

"Anytime you tell a jury you need their service for five weeks, it poses some challenges in getting a jury selected,” said District Attorney Dan Rubinstein.

It’s especially challenging when those five weeks fall during the holiday season. Rubinstein said the extensive media coverage of the initial trial could also present a challenge in finding an unbiased jury in Mesa County.

"We always assume that everyone pays attention to things we are doing at the court house and that everybody reads the newspaper and watches TV about the case," he said. "Inevitably we learn that a lot of people are just going about their lives, and doing their thing and don't know about the nitty gritty of what the case is about."

Jury selection will begin with a pool of about 600 jurors, and move to a back-up pool, if needed. The DA said neither the defense nor prosecution has filed for a change in venue yet.

“We certainly recognize there will be some challenges finding a local jury and hope not to have to transfer the case," he said. "When you have to have all your officers, prosecutors, move to another town for more than a month and live out of a hotel, it's difficult."

Some members of the public also had an opinion on the retrial.

"Everybody's entitled to a fair trial," said Sioux Robbins-Bartels, of Fruita. "Take it somewhere else -- where are you going to go? He's well known through the whole state. Hopefully they don't end a in a hung jury this time.”

The last trial cost an estimated $7,000 - $11,000 and those same costs will be factored in with this re-trial, according to the DA, and if the venue gets changed, expenses will be even higer.

We reached out to Jones' defense attorney, Steven Colvin for comment and he has not returned the call.

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