Prosecutor says Lofgren case not forgotten

by Troy Hooper, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A year after a carbon monoxide leak killed a family of four vacationing in Aspen, the tragedy’s legal implications remain unclear.

The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office convened a grand jury this summer to determine whether any person or entity would be held criminally liable for the deaths. But so far the grand jury has issued two indictments in completely unrelated cases.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin said Wednesday that the Lofgren case is an important one for his office and progress has been made. Due to the secret nature of grand jury proceedings, however, he declined to provide any specifics.

“The grand jury is considering all matters brought before it and this was one of the matters the grand jury was convened for,” he said. “If the grand jury has been meeting, you can be assured one of the issues it has been meeting about is this case.”

Asked about his office’s communication with the Lofgren’s relatives and friends about the status of the case, Mordkin said: “I’ve spoken with the family of the Lofgrens but I can’t recall the last time it was. But it wasn’t to specifically give them updates.”

He added that the district attorney’s office “has no expectations” whether any indictments will be issued and that his role is to simply present evidence and testimony about the tragedy and let the jurors decided for themselves whether to indict.

Parker and Caroline Lofgren and their two young children, aged 8 and 10, were found at 10 Popcorn Lane, east of Aspen, the day after Thanksgiving last year. The Lofgrens, who lived in the Denver area, won the Aspen trip through a charity auction.

The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office concluded a dislodged piece of PVC pipe carrying exhaust from a driveway snowmelt heater leaked lethal amounts of carbon monoxide — a poisonous, odorless gas — into the home where the Lofgrens were staying. The home, built in 2005, did not have a carbon monoxide detector installed even though a county ordinance required one. Sheriff Bob Braudis has previously said he does not believe there is enough evidence to convict anyone of negligent homicide.

The tragedy spawned laws in Aspen, Pitkin County, Colorado and nationwide requiring carbon monoxide detectors in homes and raised awareness about the deadly gas.