Colorado man convicted of killing fiancée who went missing last Thanksgiving
(CNN) — A Colorado jury Monday convicted Patrick Frazee of killing Kelsey Berreth, his fiancée who went last missing last Thanksgiving.
Frazee, 33, was found guilty on all eight charges, including two counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors had filed two murder charges because they have different theories. One is that he acted alone to kill Berreth, the other was that he alone or with other people killed Berreth during a robbery.
Jurors deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours after closing arguments Monday.
People in the courtroom cried and hugged as the verdict was read. Frazee stood beside the defense counsel, emotionless, and whispered briefly to his attorney. He did not show a reaction to the verdict.
Berreth, 29, was the mother of Frazee’s toddler daughter. Prosecutors say Frazee beat Berreth with a bat. Her body has not been found.
‘Evidence is overwhelming,’ prosecution says
During closing arguments, prosecutor Jennifer Viehman showed a slide photo of Berreth. “We all wish Kelsey would walk through that door right now. … That’s never going to happen,” she told jurors.
“While Kelsey (was) planning a future … the defendant … this man,” she said, pointing to Frazee, “(was) planning to kill her for months.”
“The evidence is compelling, it’s overwhelming, that the defendant is guilty as charged,” she said.
Krystal Lee Kenney, who was in a relationship with Frazee, testified at the trial last week that he told her his daughter was in “imminent danger,” according to CNN affiliate KMGH. She testified that he accused Berreth of abusing their child and said he “had to do something,” CNN affiliate KMGH reported.
Kenney testified that Frazee told her to give Berreth a drugged coffee so “we can end this.” Days later, he gave her a pipe and told her to hit Berreth on the head and to “make sure there wasn’t a lot of blood,” she testified. When Kenney arrived at Berreth’s home, a barking dog drove her away, she said.
The next day, she testified, Frazee gave her a bat and told her to “swing away.” But she later told him she couldn’t do it.
Kenney told the court the couple’s 1-year-old daughter was in the apartment when Berreth was killed. She testified that Berreth’s last words, according to Frazee, were: “Please stop.”
The timeline of the alleged crime is ‘made up,’ defense says
Kenney initially lied to FBI agents about whether she knew Berreth and about her disappearance. But she later told investigators Frazee told her he killed his fiancée, and she helped clean up the crime scene and get rid of the body, a criminal affidavit said.
She took a plea deal, agreeing to testify at Frazee’s trial and pleading guilty to a tampering charge, KMGH reported.
Frazee’s attorneys have argued Kenney had many chances to alert police or family about Frazee’s plans.
Defense attorney Adam Steigerwald tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and Kenney’s testimony.
“You’re being asked to ignore the evidence … and a timeline made up by Krystal Lee,” he told jurors.
He said Frazee “says a lot of stupid things.”
“He does stupid things that allows the prosecution to build a case based on circumstantial evidence,” he said.
“It’s stupidity … but not proof he committed murder,” he said.
During rebuttal, prosecutor Dan May said Kenney “turned against” Frazee.
Berreth was someone’s daughter and co-worker, May said. “Does this sound like someone who would just disappear?”
“He took a bat into Kelsey’s apartment and he beat her, and he beat her and he beat her and he beat her … and left a blood bath for someone else to clean up,” May said.