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The murder trial of Lester Jones continues on Wednesday. Jones is accused of killing Paige Birgfeld, a single mother who secretly worked as a paid escort.
Prosecutors believe that Jones was one of Birgfeld’s clients, and that he kidnapped and killed her. Birgfeld, a resident of Grand Junction, Colorado, disappeared in June 2007. Hikers found her remains in March 2012. Jones’ cell phone records reportedly showed that a week before Birgfeld vanished, he was in the area where her body was eventually found. Jones was also one of the last to call her before she disappeared, according to investigators. Jones’ defense attorney have argued that there is no physical evidence against their client, and that Birgfeld had other customers who could have been the culprit.
Much of Tuesday’s testimony came from lead investigator Jim Hebenstreit from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, who was called as a defense witness. Hebenstreit had taken over the investigation in 2011, several years after it began. The previous lead investigator had been Beverly Jarrell, who left the Sheriff’s Office in 2014. Hebenstreit acknowledged that certain evidence that had been collected prior to his taking over were being stored in Jarrell’s office, instead of being booked into evidence and maintained according to standard protocol. Several pieces of evidence weren’t found until Jarrell left in 2014, and Hebenstreit didn’t see them when he first took over the investigation.
This is the second trial that Jones is facing after a jury could not reach a decision in the first trial, which ended in September.
Court will resume in Grand Junction, Colorado on Wednesday morning at 9am Mountain Time.
LawNewz.com will provide live streaming video of the trial through its completion.