GREELEY — Frustrations boiled over for the family of a murdered woman during a Friday court hearing for her accused killer.
Allen Bergerud, 50, is set to be tried a second time for the murders of Linda Cooper and her friend, Lon Yeaman, in a field near Johnstown on April 7, 2002. Bergerud’s first trial last November ended in mistrial after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked 11-1.
The lone holdout, Glen Hoffman, later admitted to researching the case on the Internet and sharing that information with other jurors during deliberations.
Friday, Linda Cooper’s father, William Cooper, said if Judge Robert Lowenbach had replaced Hoffman on the jury during the first trial, the family wouldn’t have to go through a second trial. Moments later, he said he was worried Lowenbach might buy the defense’s argument that double jeopardy applies to Bergerud’s case and he shouldn’t be retried.
“What do we do if that occurs?” he asked. “I may have to kill him myself.”
Family members indicated Cooper made his comments in the heat of the moment.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck withdrew his motions Friday seeking an investigation into Hoffman’s conduct during the trial and a different judge to preside over the contempt investigation. He will refile the motions as part of a separate court case.
As Bergerud sat stone-faced with his two new attorneys, public defenders Tamara Brady and Brian Connors, Lowenbach told both defense lawyers and prosecutors they need to strike an agreement about how to review evidence used during the first trial.
“Both sides are new to this,” he said. “Mr. Bergerud and I are the only ones who went through this the first time.”
That comment prompted hard words from members of Cooper’s family, who said they sat through the heart-wrenching trial the first time.
“My father came out from Kansas and sat through the first trial,” said Cooper’s sister, Sandi Uhrig. “I think it’s incredibly offensive. I don’t know what (Lowenbach) was thinking.”
Prosecutors contend that Bergerud lured Cooper, his ex- common-law wife, to a Johnstown pasture southwest of Interstate 25 and Colo. Highway 56 before midnight on April 7, 2002. Yeaman drove Cooper to the field.
Prosecutors said Bergerud walked up to Yeaman’s truck and shot and killed him, left the scene, then returned to shoot Cooper, who was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. Bergerud was arrested at the scene after a shootout with Weld County sheriff’s deputies.
Lowenbach did not address arguments that Bergerud shouldn’t be tried again because there were questions whether the jury was deadlocked or if jury misconduct created the problem.
Lowenbach denied Bergerud’s attorneys’ request that all public letters, e-mails, faxes and documented conversations that officials receive about the case be handed over to them. Bergerud’s defense team wants to move the trial from Weld County and said the correspondence would be a good gauge of whether an impartial jury could be seated in Greeley.
Previous Weld County District Attorney Al Dominguez had sought the death penalty against Bergerud.
Buck, who was elected in November, has not yet decided whether he will do the same in the retrial.
“I can tell you I am committed to providing a fair trial to both the people and the defendant,” Lowenbach said, noting he would rule at some point about whether a Weld County jury could be selected. “That time is not now. ... If it is possible to do it fairly, we would like to do it here.”
Jenn Ooton can be reached at 303-684-5295, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.