Grand jury to probe family’s fatal poisoning in Aspen
The Aspen Times
ASPEN, Colorado ” A Pitkin County district judge has signed a motion that calls for a grand jury to be seated to investigate the carbon monoxide-related deaths of a family of four at a residence outside Aspen.
The jury is to be seated for a period of 12 months. The period could be extended up to six months. Chief Judge James Boyd is believed to have signed the order within the last week.
The grand jury will consist of 12 members with four alternates. The group is likely to be chosen and seated this summer, a source said Thursday.
The order comes about three weeks after 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson filed a motion in Pitkin County District Court to summon “no less than” 75 people, from which 12 will be chosen for the grand jury.
The body will ultimately determine whether criminal charges are filed in the deaths of the Lofgren family. The tragedy happened during Thanksgiving weekend.
The process in which a grand jury would be selected is somewhat similar to one picked for a court trial. Notices will be sent out to a prospective pool of jurors in Pitkin County.
One of the big differences is the jury could be selected behind closed doors. Boyd, barring an unforeseen change, will select the jury.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin will also participate in the process, and will oversee the remainder of the proceedings once the jury is seated.
Those proceedings will also be closed to the public and media.
A grand jury is also special in the sense that it has subpoena powers, meaning it can compel witnesses to appear or request documents. It is, essentially, an investigative body.
Attorneys may provide counsel to witnesses at the proceeding although they can’t argue or object to anything.
Should the grand jury choose to return an indictment, also known as a “true bill,” the process would then move forward like a criminal proceeding.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the deaths of the Lofgren family shortly after their bodies were discovered by friends in a bedroom of the home at 10 Popcorn Lane, one day after Thanksgiving.
An autopsy found Parker Lofgren, 39; his wife, Caroline, 42; and their children, Owen, 10, and Sophie, 8, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that is created when fuels, such as gasoline, natural gas and propane, burn incompletely.
It is poisonous and can kill cells of the body. It also replaces oxygen in the bloodstream, which leads to suffocation.
The home was not fitted with a carbon monoxide detector, authorities said after an investigation.
The gas apparently infiltrated the home through a disconnected exhaust pipe that stretched from a boiler to the chimney flue.