CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — Almost exactly a year after Kelsey Berreth disappeared from Woodland Park, Patrick Frazee, her fiancé, was found guilty by a Teller County jury of murdering her.
After 10 days full of testimony 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 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 the verdict.
Berreth's father stared down Frazee in the courtroom then shook his head silently as the judge read the verdict. Frazee did not react when the verdict was read in court. His attorney, Adam Stiegerwald, shook his head. Berreth's family smiled, cried and hugged one another in court after the verdict was read.
Judge Scott Sells handed down Frazee's sentence shortly afterward. Frazee received the mandatory life in prison without parole for the two murder counts, which were merged. For each of the solicitation charges, he received the maximum 48-year sentence, which run consecutive to one another. And for the tampering with a deceased human body count, Frazee was sentenced to the maximum of 12 years, which also runs consecutively.
In total, he received life in prison without parole, plus an additional 156 years.
Krystal Lee Kenney, Frazee’s ex-girlfriend whom he solicited to help him kill Berreth, has not yet been sentenced. She faces a maximum of three years in prison for tampering with evidence.
Here is Denver7's coverage from previous days of the trial:
Day 1 (Nov. 1, 2019): Prosecutor calls Patrick Frazee 'calculated manipulator,' but defense says 'facts don't make sense'
Day 2 (Nov. 4, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Family, police describe suspicions after Kelsey Berreth’s disappearance
Day 3 (Nov. 5, 2019): Patrick Frazee trial: Defense questions timeline, lack of black tote in surveillance photos
Day 4 (Nov. 6, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Krystal Kenney recounts cleanup of Kelsey Berreth murder scene
Day 5 (Nov. 7, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Defense questions why Kenney never alerted anyone to murder plot
Day 6 (Nov. 8, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: ‘I figured out a way to kill her,' friend testifies Frazee told him
Day 7 (Nov. 12, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Frazee's friend testified he said Berreth was 'never coming back'
Day 8 (Nov. 13, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Berreth's coworkers describe her as quiet, sweet, loving to her newborn
Day 9 (Nov. 14, 2019): Frazee trial: CBI agent says he doesn't know where investigation would be without Kenney's testimony
Day 10 (Nov. 15, 2019): Patrick Frazee murder trial: Ex-inmate says Frazee asked him to kill witnesses, including Kenney
Day 11 (Nov. 18, 2019): Did Patrick Frazee murder Kelsey Berreth? Jury deliberating following closing arguments
Day 11 (Nov. 18, 2019): Jury finds Patrick Frazee guilty of murdering fiancée Kelsey Berreth last Thanksgiving
Family, friends read letters before judge sentences Frazee
Before Frazee’s sentencing, several of Berreth’s friends and family members gave statements, which were all read out loud by Berreth's uncle, Scott Morin.
Ira Cline, one of Berreth’s coworkers, discussed in a written statement how Berreth was a proud mother who always had a smile on her face. Both he and Berreth had named their daughters Kaylee, he said in his letter, and they had a connection because of that. He said that everyone at their work missed Berreth and knew that she loved Kaylee “with all her heart.”
Another coworker, David Deray, wrote a letter to Kaylee and told her about how her mother was a pleasure to fly with and was a great instructor. He wrote about his time with Berreth, calling her a “natural pilot” and saying he would remember her kindness and smile – one that would lift him up about most anything – forever.
And a third coworker talked about the hundreds of sorties, or missions, Berreth had flown and the impact she made on others – including the students she had instructed. He called Berreth a quiet and unassuming soul.
The last letter Morin read out loud was written by Cheryl Berreth, Kelsey Berreth’s mother.
“She was our daughter, a devoted, loving mother, a sister, a friend,” the letter read.
She was a positive contribution to society and was beautiful inside and out, regardless of what Frazee had told others, Cheryl’s letter read.
Not only did he kill their daughter, but he chose a horrific death, beating her head with a baseball bat while she tied to escape, it read. He showed no remorse when he put her body in a tote and had Thanksgiving dinner with his family. Then he burned her body, she said, all in the presence of his 13-month-old daughter.
“He sent me a text that morning (Nov. 22) wishing me a happy Thanksgiving,” her letter read. “What a sick man.”
Since the day she went missing, they’ve slept only about three hours a night and have eaten only small meals as they cared for Kaylee, Cheryl said.
“Patrick chose Thanksgiving to execute his plan, forever tainting this holiday for us,” Cheryl’s letter read. Morin’s voice choked as he read it in the courtroom.
Cheryl’s letter said their family has had to take new precautions now.
“We have taken additional steps to protect ourselves as Frazee said he had hitmen and we have his daughter against his will,” her letter read.
This continues to haunt her, she said. At times, the case forced them to reevaluate their faith in God.
Cheryl said they would like all of Frazee’s parental rights to be revoked permanently and immediately. They intend to adopt Kaylee and said they’d appreciate anything that can be done to expedite this process. In her letter, Cheryl wrote that they’ve proved they can care for and raise the baby.
Court hearings to determine who will keep custody of Kaylee have been ongoing since Frazee's arrest. The Berreths have maintained custody of their granddaughter throughout the case.
She also said they plan to establish an aviation scholarship in Berreth’s name. Cheryl asked that Frazee contribute a substantial amount each year to this cause. She said she wants people to know that her daughter made a difference, her letter read.
The tone of the letter then changed with a single question: “Patrick, how would you like to find out that your daughter’s life ended the way you ended Kelsey’s?”
She said Kaylee will probably stumble across the gory details of her mother’s murder at some point and she will suffer for a lifetime because of Frazee’s selfishness, the letter read.
She said her family is requesting a no-contact order between the Frazee family and the Berreths. In her letter, Cheryl wrote that the Frazee family has a complete lack of courage by choosing to withhold relevant information during this trial. Instead, they chose “to support a killer,” the letter read, and therefore forfeited their rights to Kaylee.
While she believes the death penalty is well-deserved, Cheryl said in her letter that she believes in a forgiving savior and that it’s God’s decision, not her family’s, to take a life.
Cheryl’s letter then turned to Kenney and her part in Berreth’s murder. While she acknowledged that without Kenney’s contribution and testimony, a conviction may have been much harder or even impossible, it doesn’t excuse the fact that Berreth would still be alive if Kenney had taken just one opportunity to tell law enforcement about Frazee’s plan.
“Her excuses are invalid,” Cheryl’s letter wrote.
She added that she has yet to see any remorse from Kenney for anything except getting caught and that her role in the murder deserves a more severe sentence.
Then Morin, who had been reading the letters aloud in court, spoke for himself.
He thanked Judge Sells for overseeing the case and for those who decided Frazee was guilty of murdering his niece.
“We’ve prayed for justice,” he said.
He said Berreth was a great hugger, very loved, and that she loved everyone else.
“And that’s gone, but not forgotten,” Morin said.
Kimberly Morin, Berreth’s aunt, took to the stand next. She said she remembers how Berreth could fit perfectly under her arm when they hugged.
She also recalled that at her daughter’s wedding, Berreth came alone without Frazee and they laughed and smiled the whole time. She said Berreth told her that Frazee said she couldn’t get her nails done for the wedding because “only whores” do so.
She’s never been this angry, she said, but she will continue to love Kaylee just like she loved Berreth.
After Berreth’s family and friends spoke, prosecutor Jennifer Viehman stood at the stand and said one comment that really struck her during this final part of the trial was how Berreth truly mattered.
“We all knew early on that something terrible had happened to Kelsey Berreth,” she said. “We didn’t know just how terrible and how horrible and how brutal the murder of Kelsey was until Dec. 20, 2018.”
She said this case was without a doubt one of the most brutal murders she has ever seen in her 18 years of practicing.
“Mr. Frazee took a shining light from this Earth,” she said. “He not only took her life on Thanksgiving Day of last year, he planned for months to do it. He had Krystal Lee come to Colorado three times to kill Kelsey.”
Viehman asked Judge Sells to sentence Frazee to life without parole for murder after deliberation, plus 156 years for the maximum sentence for solicitation for murder and tampering with a deceased human body.
Defense attorney Stiergerald said neither Frazee nor his mother, Sheila Frazee, who was also in court Monday, wished to say anything.
Just before his sentencing, Judge Sells asked Frazee to stand up.
He said Frazee’s actions were “vicious,” “senseless,” and “without reason.”
“Kelsey spent her last night caring for you and you repaid that kindness in the morning by viciously beating her to death,” Judge Sells said, looking at Frazee. “Your crimes deserve the absolute maximum punishment and I intend to do that.”
Judge Sells then sentenced Frazee to life without the possibility of parole, plus 156 years for three counts of solicitation for murder and tampering with a deceased body.
After sentencing, prosecutors say deal with Kenney was 'a deal with the devil'
At a news conference following sentencing, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May spoke, along with prosecutors Beth Reed and Jennifer Viehman.
They called Berreth a wonderful person who mattered and recounted her loving spirit – to her daughter, to her family, her friends and even the pilots she trained. But they lamented that Berreth’s daughter, Kaylee, will never have a memory of her mother. They also discussed the sympathy they felt for her and her family about the manner in which Berreth’s life ended.
“She did not deserve this. This was totally senseless and will haunt us on this prosecution team, and I think this community, forever,” May said.
Reed and Viehman both said it had been “an honor” to work on the case and to bring justice to Berreth’s family. Viehman said getting a guilty verdict in the case was something she would never forget.
May profusely thanked the investigators who poured their time and effort into the case, his team of prosecutors who worked hundreds of hours on the case, as well as the experts who testified during the trial – saying the case could never have been solved without their contributions. He called the experts “just fabulous” and their quality “incredible.”
He and the other prosecutors said Kenney’s testimony was key to the case – that they knew something terrible had happened to Berreth but weren’t able to fully discern what – and how conniving Frazee had been – until Kenney testified.
But May was adamant that they did not want to give the tampering with evidence plea deal to Kenney unless they had to. He said she deserved “every single day” she is sentenced to, should she receive jail time, once she is sentenced in her plea deal.
He said that prosecutors had to “make a deal with the devil” when making the decision to allow Kenney to plead guilty in order for her to make a formal statement.
“We did a deal with the devil. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about that. And I’m not proud of that. But there’s no question that Kelsey wouldn’t have had the sure justice today without making that deal with the devil,” May said. “We thought it was important to solve this case, and in the end, we concentrated on who killed Kelsey.”
May said that Kenney’s next court date is set for Dec. 2 – a review hearing at which she could possibly be sentenced, though the sentencing hearing could also come at a later date, May said. The prosecutors would not discuss what sentence they will ask the judge to impose on her.
But May, Reed and Viehman were clear that there were no deals made with Frazee.
Reed said there was potential that Frazee is a sociopath and that his behavior was consistent with that of sociopaths.
“Based on my observations of Patrick Frazee over the last year, there is the potential that Patrick Frazee indicates and is consistent with a sociopath, and that’s a person who has, basically, an inability to feel empathy with other people,” she said. “I’ve never seen him to be anything but the emotionless state that he has demonstrated in the court throughout this trial.”
The prosecutors said that there are still ongoing efforts to find Berreth’s remains and that another search was done in recent weeks. But they said that the family expressed relief and a sense of justice with Monday’s verdict, and said that the religious family knew that Kelsey was in heaven. Still, how long that relief would last, May said, is another question.
“Again, justice can’t bring back Kelsey,” he said.
Reviewing the case of Kelsey Berreth's murder
This case started with a missing person report. Cheryl Berreth, Kelsey Berreth’s mother, had called her daughter on Thanksgiving morning, but despite calls and texts since then, Cheryl Berreth hadn’t heard from her daughter again by Dec. 2.
She and Kelsey Berreth’s brother, Clint Berreth, flew from their home in northern Idaho 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 her on Nov. 25, but he hadn’t heard or seen from her since. He claimed that they had broken up because Berreth wanted more space.
READ MORE: All Denver7 coverage on the killing of Kelsey Berreth, trial of Patrick Frazee
On Dec. 14 around 8:30 a.m., authorities executed a search warrant at Frazee’s ranch in Florissant. 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 Berreth 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 — Dec. 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 on Dec. 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 on Nov. 24.
The same day she walked them through Berreth’s townhome, Frazee was arrested on an investigation of first-degree murder charge at the ranch in Florissant. That same day, investigators said they no longer believed Berreth was alive.
READ MORE: Timeline of events leading up to, after Kelsey Berreth's death
Frazee was formally charged with murder, as well as solicitation, on Dec. 31. In late May, he pleaded not guilty in Berreth’s murder.
On Feb. 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 on Nov. 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 will 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 Dec. 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 Dec. 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 a Verizon employee David Felis to the stand. He described how Frazee visited the store on Dec. 11 with Kaylee and seemed paranoid and visibly shaken. Frazee allegedly told Felis he was concerned about people having access to his cell phone account.
On Nov. 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 — Nov. 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 on Sept. 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 Oct. 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 on Oct. 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 Nov. 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. on Nov. 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 Nov. 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 on Nov. 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 Nov. 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 on Nov. 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.
On several occasions, experts testified about what they found at the burn area on the Frazee property. On Nov. 8, FBI Special Agent Charles DeFrance said they only found the burn after Kenney pointed it out to them on Dec. 21. He scraped the area and could see and smell burnt plastic. There was a wet mark next to and slightly downhill from the plastic. The same day in court, Denver FBI Special Agent Donald Peterson described what this burn area looked like.
He noted that where the plastic crust ended and the wet soil began, the melted plastic was curved and slightly raised, indicating something in the shape of an arc had stopped it from flattening out. On the final section of dirt they sifted through, which included the wet area of the burn, they found what they believed to be a partial tooth, he said. This was later tested and came back positive for female human DNA, but the fragment was too small to build a DNA profile.
Another longtime friend of Frazee’s — Laurie Luce — testified on Nov. 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 Nov. 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 Nov. 14 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 in 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 teller County Jail 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 jail and had started talking and passing notes detailing a plan for the inmate to kill 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.
After about 3 ½ hours of deliberations, the jury did exactly that.