Joergensen still in custody


SAN LUIS — Retired. 6th District Judge Gregory Lyman did not reach a judgment on the fate of accused arsonist Jesper Joergensen, 54, following a virtual hearing Friday in Costilla County District Court; instead, he continued the hearing until 10 a.m. March 8.

Joergensen, charged with 141 counts of arson, has been held in jail for more than 900 days. He has been diagnosed with a delusional disorder that seven psychiatrists and several other experts told attorneys and the court render him unable to participate in a trial.

Believing Joergensen was being held by International Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents as an illegal alien from Denmark and would be deported when the arson cases were dealt with, attorneys said ICE evidently has no intention of dealing with Joergensen. Court-appointed defense attorney Jane Fisher-Byrialsin, said attempts to communicate with ICE had been unsuccessful.

Fisher-Byrialsin said, “the treating physician said nothing has changed, there is nothing new.” Joergensen is still delusional and in a state of mental illness, which isn’t improving. He won’t take his medication and resists moving to another location. He has been in the RICE Program at Arapahoe County.

Lyman said, “All of us, in good faith, believed Mr. Joergensen would be returned — would be taken by ICE to Denmark.”

With a 100-day moratorium on removals in place, the judge said, “If I release Mr. Joergensen, he would be sent to the community with no restrictions.” Lyman said he is not comfortable with that and “The court cannot involve itself in immigration issues.”

Lyman said the law doesn’t set the length of time a person could be held in custody. “I found probable cause that Joergensen would be held in custody (awaiting trial) and I won’t change that.” He ordered Joergensen to be admitted to the Colorado Mental Health Institute (CMHIP) in Pueblo as soon as possible. The facility had not been taking new patients due to the pandemic, but has resumed admissions, Lyman said.

He just can’t be let go, 12th Judicial District Deputy DA Cynthia Kowert told the judge, “It is Ridiculous to think what could happen with him not in custody.”

Reading the names of those persons who have written letters or made statements, Lyman said he wanted to hear from more owners of the homes that were destroyed in the Spring Creek Fire before making a final ruling in the fate of Joergensen.

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