Abel Lujan again sentenced to 48 years in prison after retrial in Longmont murder

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Aug. 5—Abel Lujan was sentenced to the maximum 48 years in prison for the 1999 strangling death of Bernadine "Bernie" Frost.

Lujan was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Boulder County jury in June after a four-day retrial on the case.

On Friday, Boulder District Judge Norma Sierra sentenced Lujan to 48 years in prison, the maximum allowed for second-degree murder.

But Lujan, who has been in custody either in jail or prison since his initial arrest back in 2013, will receive credit for 3,160 days time served, a total of almost nine years.

The 48-year sentence is the same as the sentence applied in Lujan's overturned case.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty credited police and prosecutors for getting a conviction at a retrial even after some witnesses had died since the original case.

"Bernie Frost was the victim of a brutal and horrific murder," Dougherty said in a statement. "Her killer deserved the maximum sentence for what he did to Bernie, her loved ones, and this community. Chief Deputy DAs Fred Johnson and Adrian Van Nice handled both of the trials. The two of them are tireless and outstanding prosecutors; they were honored to fight for justice for Bernie. The Longmont Police Department pursued this case relentlessly and their efforts made today's sentence possible.

"It has been a long road, but this sentence is the right outcome for what he did."

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.