NewsKelsey Berreth Case


Patrick Frazee murder trial: Ex-inmate says Frazee asked him to kill witnesses, including Kenney

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Posted at 5:15 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 14:04:06-05

CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — An inmate who was in the same jail as Patrick Frazee testified Friday that the accused murderer of Kelsey Berreth asked him to kill multiple witnesses in the case, including Krystal Kenney, the woman accused of helping him carry out Berreth's killing.

On Friday, prosecutors also showed 17 different letters that a witness, who's a former inmate, said he exchanged with Frazee, who was in the same jail. The man is on probation now. In their passed notes, Frazee asked the man to kill witnesses — Kenney, Michelle Stein (Kenney’s friend in Idaho), John Moore (Frazee's friend who previously testified), Wendi Clark (Moore’s significant other) and lead Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Gregg Slater — and described where they live now and what they look like. In a testimony, Slater confirmed the descriptions of each person and their places of residences were all accurate.

In one letter, Frazee allegedly wrote he’d “really like to see Kenney with a bullet in her head.”

Friday was already expected to be a big day in court, as closing arguments were possible. However, the prosecution rested its case shortly after lunch, Frazee's attorneys did not call any witnesses and Fourth Judicial District Judge Scott Sells decided to push closing arguments to Monday.

But before court broke for the weekend, Judge Sells ruled that the jury could also consider second-degree murder or manslaughter in the case if they decide to not convict Frazee of first-degree murder. Second-degree murder carries a prison sentence of eight to 24 years and manslaughter carries a sentence of two to six years.

Frazee's attorneys have pushed for lesser charges in the case.

Frazee, 33, of Florissant, is accused of murdering Berreth, his 29-year-old fiancée, on Thanksgiving Day 2018 in Woodland Park. He is also accused of soliciting Kenney, an Idaho resident whom he had dated, to help him carry out the murder.

Frazee faces eight charges, including first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased body and solicitation. While he pleaded not guilty to the charges, Kenney took a plea deal, pleading guilty to a tampering charge and agreeing to testify at Frazee's trial. You can read about her testimony here and here.

READ MORE: Timeline of events leading up to, after Kelsey Berreth's death

Prosecutors decided in July to not file a motion in pursuit of capital punishment, meaning Frazee will not face the death penalty in this case if he is found guilty of first-degree murder.

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

Analyst: Blood stains 'consistent' with someone getting hit by bat

To begin the testimony Friday morning, prosecutors called to the stand Jonathyn Priest, a former longtime Denver police officer who now specializes as an expert in blood stain pattern analysis and crime scene reconstruction.

Priest testified that the blood stains found inside Berreth's townhome matched what he'd expect to find in a case of a bloodied person getting struck repeatedly. He said the victim in this case — he didn't name Berreth — could have been hit 10 to 15 times. Bloody footprints discovered around Berreth's home showed that a person was likely stepping in a "pool of blood" while they walked around, Priest said.

“People aren’t easy to kill," he said. "They’re very resilient. And beatings are nasty in that they don’t really have the effect that they have on television.”

Priest, who has attended several hundred hours of training in blood stain and blood spatter analysis, said the field involves identifying particular blood stain types and concluding what could have happened or could not have happened to cause those stains and patterns.

With that, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May began asking Priest about the blood stains found inside Berreth's townhome. When asked if the blood stains could indicate that someone had been struck by a bat, Priest said, "certainly it's consistent." Kenney testified earlier in the trial that Frazee struck Berreth with a baseball bat, killing her.

Priest said when it came to the blood splatters in the condo, all the drops were only centimeters or millimeters long on whatever surface they landed on.

As he testified, the prosecution played body camera video from Dec. 21, 2018 of Kenney showing authorities where she saw blood in Berreth's home. This was the day after she told authorities her full story.

Blood was also found on the television in the townhome, and Kenney said she saw blood and bloody footprints all over the bathroom floor. Priest said a bloody footprint would mean that person stepped in a "relatively significant source of blood."

In the video, Kenney also said she saw blood in Berreth's kitchen, including on an appliance, a coffee maker, on the counters and high up on the wall. Priest said that if someone is struck by something, blood would splatter in an arc, with the length of it depending on the force of the strike.

"This is consistent with what I'd expected to see if I saw a blood source in the living room that was being struck with an object multiple times over," Priest said.

In the video, Kenney and investigators went up to the loft on the second floor and she pointed out bloody footprints upstairs — another indication of a large source of blood, Priest said.

May later pulled up a picture of the blood on the toilet in Berreth's bathroom. Priest described the blood as a "transfer stain," meaning something that had blood on it had touched the toilet and left the stain.

"Something bloody contacted this toilet bowl," Priest said.

"Can you tell us what it was?" May asked.

"No," Priest said.

May then pulled up a picture of Berreth's couch, which had wipe marks where someone had used a towel of some sort to wipe the couch with a cleaning liquid in a circular motion.

"In my experience, it is consistent with an effort to clean up an area – of anything," Priest said.

May pulled up more pictures, which showed blood drops on the fireplace grout, on the front and back of wooden chairs and on the hardwood floor. On the hardwood floor, blood had seeped between the cracks and bloodied the sides of the floorboards, which can't be seen from above.

May also brought up a picture of blood on a floorboard, similar to the previous ones he'd shown, but this one had tested positive for DNA belonging to somebody other than Berreth. Priest noted that the stain would have required a lot of blood, not just a few drops, to make that sort of stain.

May also presented a piece of the floorboard in court and gave it to Priest to look at. Priest said he noted that some hard object had made contact with the wood in two separate locations because there were significant indentations. He said it wasn't consistent with wood imperfections, but rather something interrupting, or hitting, it.

May asked Priest again if the blood stains in Berreth's townhome were consistent with someone who was beaten by a bat.

"Oh, absolutely," Priest said.

At the very minimum, he explained, the victim would have been struck twice, though it was likely more.

"One to start the bleeding and one to create the impact pattern," Priest said. "But a single impact creates a bit of a pattern. What (Kenney) describes — I see something much more massive."

Priest estimated the victim may have been struck 10 to 15 times.

May then asked Priest how he would explain why there was so little blood discovered in the townhome. Priest said the splatter stains across the different areas of the home indicated a significant source of blood. He said Kenney's testimony about cleaning the townhome for hours explains why investigators didn't see a lot of that blood.

May concluded his questioning by asking if Priest considered the townhome to be the scene of a homicide.

“There is nothing here that tells me the death was accidental," Priest said. "It’s very consistent with what I’d expect to see in a homicide.”

During the cross-examination, prosecutor Ashley Fridovich Porter confirmed that Priest did not see most of the splatters because Kenney had previously cleaned it. She made a point to explain that he had not actually seen most of these splatters himself. When she asked if it was fair to say a large part of his analysis was based on what Kenney said, Priest said yes, but added that his experience in previous, similar situations helped too. Priest said he likely would have come to a similar conclusion without Kenney's testimony.

During a redirect, May said there were no inconsistencies between what Priest found at the townhome and Kenney's testimony.

The jury asked how much blood the offender of somebody in this crime would have on them afterward. Priest said typically, the offender doesn't get much blood on themselves because of the direction of the force, especially in a beating. Blood is usually forced away from the individual delivering the blow, he said.

Former inmate testifies that Frazee asked him to kill witnesses

The former inmate – whom prosecutors asked media to not identify, out of fear of retaliation from prison gangs – said he met Frazee in the Teller County Jail on Sept. 26 of this year. They were housed together in the same pod from the time they met, until Oct. 12.

During that time, they talked to each other and wrote letters.

In their second conversation, Frazee asked the fellow inmate about a tattoo on his face. He was curious about what it meant. The inmate, who has been convicted of two felonies, told Frazee it was from a prison gang, but he was no longer a member.

The two inmates were curious about each other's cases and talked about it often. The former inmate said Frazee was concerned about his own upcoming trial in Berreth's killing.

Frazee asked if the prison gang could do something about the case, saying he could possibly bond his fellow inmate out of jail if he helped him murder the witnesses, the former inmate testified.

The former inmate confirmed to prosecutors that Frazee asked him more than once to murder a witness in the case.

The prosecutors then began showing the handwritten letters between Frazee and the former inmate. The letters referenced "instruction or suggestions to carry out the hits so to speak on the witness" and named specific witnesses, including Kenney and her friend, Michelle Stein.

In cross-examination, Frazee's attorney, Adam Stiegerwald, questioned the former inmate about how he got involved in the Frazee's murder trial. Stiegerwald, in the questioning, said the former inmate met with prosecutors on Monday night and had previously contacted the defense attorneys, but declined to talk.

Stiegerwald asked him if he considered selling the jail letters on eBay, since Frazee "would be famous." The former inmate said he did consider that, but finally felt like he wanted to do the right thing and testify.

He also said he hoped to get a plea bargain by testifying, since he was facing a felony charge that could land him up to 30 years in prison. That charge has since been dropped to a misdemeanor, but the former inmate said he didn't know this at the time he came forward.

During a redirect prosecutor Beth Reed confirmed that nobody at the prosecution table was involved in the dropping of those charges.

CBI agent details jail letters where Frazee allegedly asked other inmate to kill witnesses

Prosecutor Beth Reed then called up Gregg Slater, the CBI agent, who went through 17 of the letters that Frazee and the inmate allegedly passed back and forth while in the Teller County Jail. Slater said he reviewed these letters. He said all the letters appeared to match Frazee’s handwriting. He read them out loud in the newsroom:

Letter 1 read, “You know where to find Krystal Jean Lee Kenney? Chad Lee? Michelle Stein? John Moore? Wendi Clark? They all need to disappear until at least Nov. 22 after the trial.” All of those people were endorsed witnesses in this case. The letter listed out who each individual is, and noted Clark as the "cash cow." The writer instructed the receiver to call or text “her” using a fake name to say the horses have been taken care of or the elk hunt was successful. While Sheila Frazee’s name was not on the note, her landline and cell phone were.

“My life and my little girl’s life depends on you!” the first letter read.

The writer, who's assumed to be Frazee, wrote in letter 8 that the planning got his blood flowing, even though he's "never been a criminal."

“If I walk out, you and me could pull all kinds of s**t. I know all sorts of rich ranchers around the west," it read.

In the same letter, Frazee allegedly wrote he’d “really like to see Kenney with a bullet in her head.”

In letter 9, Frazee allegedly claimed that the District Attorney’s Office was working with Kenney to give her quotes to say so her testimony matched the circumstantial evidence in the case.

"I know the DA helped put words in her mouth," the letter read. "No video, no weapon, no body, no forensics, but with the help of the DA, they’re coaching her on the circumstantial evidence for a blank statement to match up."

Reed asked about Slaters Dec. 20, 2018 interview with Kenney and Slater confirmed it was the first time he’d heard this story and it was the same one she told in court.

In letter 12, Frazee allegedly said the former inmate would need to "kidnap and hide 'em until you're done. South Florissant. Guy and chick. 55 to 60 years old." Slater said Frazee was referencing Moore and Clark here.

In letter 13, Frazee allegedly said “I’m not the monster they say I am. I don’t know what happened or where she went," and "Any advice how to defend my innocence?"

He is accused of writing in letter 14: "Do you have funds or resources to go to Idaho and back? Was thinking if you could cap 'em in the desert." Slater said he was talking about Kenney and Stein here.

In letter 15, he allegedly wrote: “I’m excited if we can pull this off — only thing better would be if Krystal sent someone a text from her phone confessing and telling the truth that I didn’t have anything to do with it at all. Gregg Slater and all five disappear," referencing Kenney's family, including her children and Chad Lee, and Stein.

Most of the letters had instructions to flush the bathroom paper towels once the former inmate had read the message.

The defense did not cross-examine Slater.

The prosecution then said they would rest their case. The defense — after confirming that Frazee would not testify — also rested without bringing up any witnesses.

What's planned for Monday

The judge pushed the closing statements to Monday because the court had not reached a decision on legal matters regarding jury instructions.

After closing statements, the jurors will go to the jury room to begin deliberations. They will have access to the evidence as well. It's not yet known how long they plan to deliberate the case.

At the end of the day Friday, the judge determined that if the jury doesn't find Frazee guilty of first-degree murder, they could then find him guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

READ MORE: All Denver7 coverage on the killing of Kelsey Berreth, trial of Patrick Frazee

Live tweeting and live reporting is not allowed in the courtroom, per a court decorum. The trial is expected to last three weeks.