Abel Lujan has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the 1999 strangling death of Bernadine “Bernie” Frost.
A Boulder County jury returned the verdict Thursday afternoon after a four-day retrial on the case.
Lujan is now set for sentencing on Aug. 5, and faces up to 48 years in prison. He remains in custody.
Prosecutors said Lujan beat and strangled Frost, 30, shortly after the two left a Longmont apartment where they had attended a party in April 1999.
A man at the party found Frost’s body lying in an alley outside the apartment building the next morning. Police believe Lujan had staged her body after killing her.
Investigators long suspected Lujan had killed Frost, but previous district attorneys did not file charges against him until 2013, when then-Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett elected to move forward with the case.
Lujan denied killing Frost during several police interviews, but during the trial his defense team pushed for manslaughter and acknowledged Lujan had killed Frost. However, they insisted that he killed Frost after flying into a jealous rage after she hugged another man at the party.
Lujan was found guilty of second-degree murder following a trial in 2015, but the case was remanded back to Boulder District Court after the Colorado Court of Appeals overturned the conviction as a result of several errors by the trial judge that the court felt could have cost Lujan a fair trial.
Although Lujan was originally charged in the case with first-degree murder, he was retried on a count of second-degree murder because the jury chose to convict on that lesser charge in his original conviction.
“Our team was honored to fight for justice for Bernie Frost and her family,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said in a statement. “We are grateful for the verdict and for the jury’s service. (Thursday)’s verdict is the culmination of a long and difficult journey. I want to acknowledge Stan Garnett for his dedication to this case and for assigning the amazing team that has worked on this case from the start. It has been a true team effort for the victim and her family.”
Boulder Daily Camera
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