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Jury finds Patrick Frazee guilty of murdering fiancée Kelsey Berreth last Thanksgiving

Frazee also convicted on other counts he faced
Posted: 4:24 PM, Nov 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-18 17:43:40-05
Jury finds Patrick Frazee guilty of murdering fiancée Kelsey Berreth last Thanksgiving

CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — Almost exactly a year after Kelsey Berreth disappeared from Woodland Park, Colorado, her fiancé, Patrick Frazee, was found guilty of murdering her.

After 10 days full of testimonies inside the Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek, the 12-person jury determined that, based on what they had heard and seen in court, Frazee had indeed committed the crime he was charged with in December: first-degree murder.

In addition, he was also convicted of tampering with a deceased human body and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder after deliberation.

The jury deliberated from just after 11 a.m. until around 2:45 p.m. before delivering a verdict Monday. First-degree murder after deliberation carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Frazee will be sentenced Monday.

Frazee did not react when the verdict was read in court. Berreth's family smiled, cried and hugged one another in court as the verdict was read.

Krystal Lee Kenney, Frazee’s ex-girlfriend whom he solicited to help him kill Berreth, will face her sentencing around the same time. She faces a maximum of three years in prison for tampering with evidence.

This case started with a missing person report. Cheryl Berreth, Kelsey Berreth’s mother, called her daughter Thanksgiving morning. But despite calls and texts since then, Cheryl Berreth hadn’t heard from her daughter again by December 2.

She and Kelsey Berreth’s brother, Clint Berreth, flew from their home in Washington to Colorado and went to Kelsey Berreth’s townhome in Woodland Park.

When they had reached out to Frazee, he said they had exchanged their 1-year-old daughter on Thanksgiving Day and texted November 25, but he hadn’t heard from her or seen her since. He claimed that they had broken up because Berreth wanted more space.

Around 8:30 a.m. December 14, authorities executed a search warrant at Frazee’s ranch in Florissant, Colorado. He lived with his mother at the property.

After two days of searching the property, authorities didn’t find any signs of Berreth. About 75 people from multiple jurisdictions scoured the 35-acre home.

On Dec. 20, Kenney came forward and told investigators a story that blew the investigation wide open: That Frazee had asked her to come to Colorado on three different occasions to kill Berreth, whom Frazee had painted as an alcoholic and abusive mother to their 1-year-old daughter, and Kenney had backed out of each one.

Frazee told her he took matters into his own hands and killed her with a bat in her townhouse on Thanksgiving afternoon, then told Kenney to drive to Colorado to clean up the mess, Kenney said. According to her testimony, she found a “horrific scene” inside the townhome, but cleaned it before meeting up with Frazee. They drove together to the Nash Ranch, where Frazee had allegedly stored Berreth’s body in a plastic storage bin, brought the bin to this ranch in Florissant and burned it. She explained these details after accepting a plea deal from the district attorney’s office.

The same day Kenney told her story — December 20 — investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Woodland Park Police Department and the FBI returned to Berreth’s home to search it a second time.

Kenney agreed to walk through the townhouse with authorities December 21, the day after she explained her story. According to a body camera video played in court, she pointed to parts of the home and described how she had cleaned up a bloody scene November 24.

The same day she walked them through Berreth’s townhome, Frazee was arrested on an investigation of a first-degree murder charge at the ranch in Florissant. That same day, investigators said they no longer believed Berreth was alive.

Frazee was formally charged with murder, as well as solicitation, December 31. In late May, he pleaded not guilty in Berreth’s murder.

On February 4, Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Scott A. Sells issued a summons for Kenney to appear in Teller County Combined Court for her first appearance. She had been charged with tampering with physical evidence , which is a class 6 felony. She pleaded guilty to this, which carries a maximum sentence of three years. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to testify at Frazee’s murder trial.

Opening statements for Frazee’s trial started November 1 after four days of jury selection. The prosecution details how they planned to find Frazee guilty of all of the charges against him and the defense explained how they would show how the case is built entirely on an unstable and unreliable foundation.

The prosecution called up dozens of witnesses — family, friends and various experts and analysts — over the two-plus-week trial. Her mother explained how she grew more and more worried as days went by without Berreth returning her calls. She described how she called Woodland Park Police on December 2 to request a welfare check and then flew out to Colorado from Washington with her adult son. They noticed some things were awry in Berreth’s home, like smears on the couch, a full garbage can and stale cinnamon rolls on top of the stove. On December 6, Berreth’s brother noticed blood on the underside of the toilet. They called police and officers immediately asked them to leave the townhome.

That same day, prosecutors brought Verizon employee David Felis to the stand. He described how Frazee visited the store December 11 with Kaylee and seemed paranoid and visibly shaken. Frazee allegedly told Felis he was concerned about people having access to his cellphone account.

On November 5, Frazee’s older brother explained what Thanksgiving Day was like for their family. Frazee was expected to come to dinner, but was late, his brother testified. He said his brother’s demeanor was “concerning” in the days after Berreth went missing. This same day, investigators noted their observations on surveillance videos that showed Frazee at Walmart and Ent Credit Union before the alleged murder, and the positioning of the plastic black storage bin in the back of Frazee’s truck. The bin was in a different position before and after the time of the alleged murder, an investigator said.

Kenney was described as the prosecution’s key witness before the trial started and when she was called up to the witness stand on the fourth day of the trial — November 6 — she started by explaining that she’d met Frazee in 2006 and detailed the early months of their relationship. Kenney ended their relationship after Frazee asked her to pick up some “things" for him on his property and while she did so, she said it was “not pleasant.” They stayed friends, but Kenney went on to marry another man in October 2010.

Years later, in 2015, they started to talk more often and an affair began.

“It was like nothing had changed – still the same giddy feeling,” she told the court.

In August 2019, Frazee started to describe Berreth as abusive toward Kaylee, according to Kenney’s testimony, though he never provided any proof of this. He asked Kenney if she was willing to do anything to protect the innocent and claimed his daughter was in “imminent danger.” In October, Frazee allegedly suggested spiking a caramel macchiato with something that would kill Berreth, Kenney said.

Kenney said she brought the coffee to Berreth’s house September 23, but did not add anything to it. Berreth appeared guarded, Kenney said, and she left. When she told Frazee about it, he seemed angry, she said.

Their second plan was for Kenney to kill Berreth with a metal pipe to the back of the head. Kenney said she went to the Woodland Park townhome October 15 but heard a dog bark, so she jumped back in the car, put the pipe at the end of Frazee’s driveway in Florissant and slept in her car at a gas station.

It was around this time that Kenney said she started to realize that Berreth “was probably doing nothing wrong.”

Frazee gave her one more chance — she’d have to kill Berreth with a baseball bat, Kenney testified. She drove to the townhome October 21 and sat on the ground outside the building. She then got in her car, which she’d borrowed from a friend back in Idaho, and drove to Florissant. She told Frazee she couldn’t and wouldn’t kill Berreth, she said.

On November 22, Frazee called Kenney multiple times while she was having Thanksgiving with her family, she said. When she called him back, he sounded rattled, she said.

“He told me I have a mess to clean up,” she testified.

She said she believed he’d either killed Berreth or that he was setting her up, she said. She left around 6 p.m. November 23 and arrived about 12 hours later. She grabbed Berreth’s townhome keys from the end of Frazee’s driveway, where he’d left them for her, and then drove to Woodland Park.

She testified she opened the door and “saw a lot of blood” on the living room floor and the walls of the townhome. She said it looked like somebody had flicked paint at the walls. She cleaned what she could, she said.

“I left little spots so that somebody would see it and then it would raise suspicion or question on what happened,” Kennedy told the court, adding that she hoped police would find the blood.

After the cleanup, she met up with Frazee, who described how difficult it was for him to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his family when Berreth was in a tote in the back of his truck in the driveway, Kenney said.

That day — still November 24 — Frazee allegedly described to Kenney how he’d killed Berreth. He said he covered her eyes with a sweater to have her guess the scent of candles and then beat her to death with a baseball bat, Kenney said. He said he then put the body in a black tote and put it on top of a haystack at the Nash Ranch.

Later in the day November 24, both Frazee and Kenney went to the ranch, put the tote back in Frazee’s truck, returned to Florissant and put the tote in a rusted-out trough, Kenney testified. She said Frazee used gasoline and motor oil to burn it. Afterward, Frazee forced Kenney to take Berreth’s phone and gun with her back to Idaho. Kenney left later that evening for home, she said. As instructed by Frazee, she sent text messages to his phone, Berreth’s mother’s phone and Berreth’s employer from Berreth’s phone.

They talked “a lot” in the days afterward, Kenney said.

The same day Kenney testified for the prosecution, a specialist with the FBI's cellular analysis team explained his analysis of the cell records for the phones belonging to Frazee, Berreth and Kenney. Despite the fact that Berreth was missing, her phone was seen traveling with Frazee in the days after her alleged murder.

The following day — day five on November 7 — the defense questioned Kenney’s story . They asked why, despite saying Berreth’s family deserved to know what happened to their daughter, she never reached out to alert law enforcement or tell any of her friends or families.

She could have faced up to 144 years in prison for attempted murder, but will instead face a maximum of three years, the defense said as Kenney started to cry.

The prosecution pulled up another star witness November 8 — Joseph Paul Moore. Moore said Frazee had once told him that he had figured out a way to kill Berreth, which he had scolded him for.

After the date of the alleged murder, Frazee asked him why the whole nation cared so much about a missing person case, he said. Frazee then said, “Man, if I had known it would have blown up this big, I never would have —” and didn’t finish sentence.

Earlier that day, the prosecution had welcomed two K-9 handlers to the witness stand, and each trainer explained where their dogs had detected the scent of a decomposing human body — a pair of underwear in Berreth’s apartment, the back corner of her car, which was parked in her driveway, and on top of the haystack at Nash Ranch.

Another longtime friend of Frazee’s — Laurie Luce — testified November 12. She said she had been talking with Frazee after Berreth’s disappearance and mentioned that maybe the young mother would come back.

" Oh, she’s never coming back," Frazee said, according to Luce.

That day, several of Kenney’s coworkers described her demeanor after the alleged murder. She seemed sad and quiet, which was uncharacteristic, the coworkers said.

On November 13, the prosecution brought up Berreth’s coworkers, who described her as private and quiet, but kind and sweet. One coworker said Berreth once told her that Frazee wasn’t treating her well. These character witnesses came before a CBI forensic serologist, who explained the DNA evidence found at Berreth’s townhome. She said the toilet in the bathroom tested positive for blood, as did swabs from the wall, under the towel rack, the sink and more.

Thursday, Nov. 14 was the penultimate day of testimony in the trial. Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Gregg Slater testified on the morning of November14 that he doesn't know where the investigation would be without Kenney's testimony.

The defense responded with comments they've made before — that Kenney was not a reliable witness, and only provided information to investigators after taking a plea deal, which ensured she could only face a maximum of three years in prison.

The jury also learned more about the DNA evidence that was found inside Berreth's townhome and how the blood found inside likely belonged to her. Frazee's DNA was hardly found anywhere in the tested samples.

Friday, Nov. 15 was the final day of testimony. The prosecution began the morning by calling up an expert in blood stain analysis and crime scene reconstruction. He testified about how the blood stains in the townhome matched what he would have expected to see in a case where a bloodied person had been struck repeatedly. He guessed, based on the minimal blood splatter on items and walls around the home, and the larger amounts of blood that had seeped into the floorboards in the living room, that the person may have been struck 10 to 15 times.

During the cross-examination, the defense confirmed that the analyst did not actually see most of the blood splatter on the walls because Kenney had allegedly cleaned most of it.

The prosecution's final witness was an unexpected bombshell for many in the courtroom. They brought in a former inmate, who was on probation and whom prosecutors had asked the media not to identify out of fear of retaliation from prison gangs. The former inmate said he and Frazee were housed together in the same pod in the Teller County Jail and had started talking. Frazee and him then started to talk and pass notes about the inmate killing the witnesses in Frazee's case.

After the former inmate was excused, a CBI agent brought up the letters they passed back and forth on the court slideshow.

“If I walk out, you and me could pull all kinds of s**t. I know all sorts of rich ranchers around the west," one letter read. Read about the rest of the letters in this story.

On Monday, Judge Sells reminded the jury of their instructions and prosecutor Beth Reed walked jurors back through the case and reminded them why they should find Frazee guilty of premeditated murder.

Defense attorney Adam Stiegerwald worked throughout his closings to tell the jury why Kenney was an unreliable witness, calling her story a fabrication to protect herself, and told the jury why Frazee did not kill Berreth. He said the prosecution based their entire case on an unreliable timeline and Kenney's testimony.

“We are asking you to please stop this defendant from getting away with murder, and find him guilty on all charges,” District Attorney Dan May said.

This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer on KMGH.