CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — Did Patrick Frazee intentionally murder his fiancee and mother of his child, Kelsey Berreth, on Thanksgiving Day 2018? That's the main question the jury will deliberate Monday morning after closing arguments in Frazee's murder trial.
The case caught national attention when Berreth was reported missing in December 2018 and after Frazee became a murder suspect. Since the trial officially began on Nov. 1, 2019, people around the nation have kept tabs on the happenings inside the Teller County courtroom in the small city of Cripple Creek. Before this trial, Cripple Creek was best known for housing the last mining boom in Colorado. It has also been called arguably the most haunted place in the state — and this trial will likely haunt the city well after it's over.
Frazee, 33, of Florissant, is on trial for allegedly murdering Berreth, 29, with a bat on Thanksgiving Day 2018 in her Woodland Park townhome. He is also accused of soliciting Krystal Lee Kenney, an Idaho resident whom he had dated, to help him carry out the murder, clean up the scene, burn Berreth's body on his property and throw investigators off their scent.
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.
As of Monday morning, Frazee had not taken a plea deal. In addition, Berreth's body has never been found.
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. Instead, he'd face life in prison.
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
What is expected for Monday
On Friday afternoon, Fourth Judicial District Judge Scott Sells pushed closing arguments to Monday because the court had not reached a decision on legal matters regarding jury instructions. That continued first thing Monday morning.
At the end of the day Friday, the judge also 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. Here's what those three charges mean:
- First-degree murder involves an intentional and premeditated killing of a person. If convicted, this carries a life sentence or the death penalty (Note: Frazee will not face the death penalty)
- Second-degree murder is still deliberate, but not planned in advance. If convicted, this carries a sentence of eight to 24 years in prison.
- Manslaughter involves recklessly causing another person to die. If convicted, this carries a sentence of two to six years in prison.
Closing arguments began after jury instructions were ironed out Monday morning. The prosecution and defense each had 90 minutes. Each side attempted, for the final time, to convince the jury that Frazee is guilty or not guilty of the charges against him.
Once closing arguments concluded, the 12 jurors went to the jury room to begin deliberations. They will decide if he is guilty of:
- First degree-murder
- Second-degree-murder (if not first-degree murder)
- Manslaughter (if not first-degree murder)
- Solicitation to commit first-degree murder
- Tampering with a deceased human body
They will have access to the evidence during this time. It's unknown how long they plan to deliberate the case.
Judge tells jury their instructions for deliberations
The courtroom was nearly full Monday morning as prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared to deliver their closing statements in the case. The Berreth family – aside from Kelsey’s parents – took up two rows in court, and Frazee’s mother, Sheila Frazee, was present as well.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Scott Sells started the day by reading the jury instructions to jurors. He reminded them of the counts that Frazee faces and that they should find him guilty on each count if they believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is guilty of that crime.
He reminded the jury that they are to judge how credible the witnesses who testified were and how much weight to give their testimony when making decisions on the various counts. Sells also explained to the jurors how they may find Frazee guilty of charges that are less severe than first-degree murder or felony murder if they so choose – including second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Frazee faces eight counts in the case: First-degree murder after deliberation, three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder after deliberation for three separate incidents, felony murder, tampering with a deceased human body, and two sentence enhancers for committing a violent crime causing death and committing a violent crime using a weapon.
Prosecutors tell jurors Frazee is guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation
Prosecutor Beth Reed started closing arguments for the state by showing a photo of Berreth to the court that included her birth and death dates.
“We all wish Kelsey Berreth had walked through that door right now,” she told the court.
She said when it was suggested that Berreth could come back, Frazee said, “that’s never going to happen.”
She walked the jurors back through the past two weeks of testimony, in which witnesses outlined months of alleged plotting by Frazee to kill Berreth, her alleged murder, and how Frazee allegedly tried to get his mistress, Krystal Lee Kenney, to kill Berreth on several occasions. Reed also discussed how Frazee allegedly had Kenney clean up the murder scene at Berreth’s townhome in Woodland Park on Nov. 24, 2018.
Reed told the court that Frazee knew that Berreth was dead when he said multiple times in December 2018 that Berreth was not coming back. She said that he knew she was dead when he went to a credit union and Verizon store to try and establish alibis, as some of the witnesses have testified. Three days before law enforcement even knew about Kenney, Frazee was at the Verizon store asking an employee, "What happens to a destroyed, damaged or lost phone? Can you recover information?" Reed said.
She said that Frazee knew Berreth was dead because he never tried to contact her after Nov. 25. There was "zero communication," according to his phone and phone records.
Reed worked to convince the jury that Berreth had no intention of disappearing, nor was she suicidal, and cited her trip to get Frazee medication in the early-morning hours of Thanksgiving 2018, as well as her trip to a gas station the day before.
“While Kelsey Berreth is planning a future, this man (Frazee) is planning to kill her for months,” Reed told the court.
She said the last time Berreth was seen on camera – at a Safeway with her daughter on Thanksgiving morning – she was planning on making a bread dip she would never get to eat. A receipt showed the amount of groceries she bought.
“This is not consistent that someone’s about to walk up and leave her child,” Reed told the court. “This is not consistent with someone who’s suicidal. It’s consistent with someone who believes she has a future.”
Reed said that the items found at Berreth’s home also showed that Berreth did not leave on her own, and that the phone records and video of Frazee’s movements after Berreth went missing showed he was working to establish an alibi for a murder that prosecutors said he planned for months.
Reed said that video evidence showed that Frazee was not checking cattle on the afternoon of Thanksgiving 2018 but rather was at Berreth’s condo, killing her. She pointed out that his phone was utilizing the Woodland Park cell phone tower despite him claiming he was checking cattle elsewhere and that the only reason he was in Woodland Park was because he was killing Berreth.
Reed noted that later that afternoon, just before 5 p.m., Frazee’s truck was seen on a camera and that black tote in the back of his truck had changed positions.
“Because Kelsey Berreth is in that box,” Reed said. “Her beaten and battered body is in that box, and he’s going to take it to his house, where he keeps it while he eats Thanksgiving dinner.”
Reed then walked the court back through the movements of Frazee’s and Berreth’s phones over the next two days and said that Frazee was “fabricating and manipulating” the calls “to serve his own interest.” She pulled up the hay bale and the discolored spot – telling the court it is “remarkable” the dimensions of the spot matched the size of the black tote.
Reed said that in his first discussion with Woodland Park police, Frazee’s story was not consistent, and noted that Kenney’s testimony lined up with the timeline regarding the cleanup to which other witnesses had testified.
“Is Patrick Frazee’s story credible? No,” she told the court.
Reed said that Frazee was the only person with the means, motive and evidence pointing toward him killing Berreth, and reiterated to the jury that the murder was premeditated.
Reed said that testimony from Frazee’s friend, Joseph Moore, from Kenney and from ranch hands showed that Frazee was deliberating about killing Berreth and cleaning up the murder for months.
“He finished her off because she was a problem to him,” Reed said.
She went back through the expert testimony from CBI and other investigators, detailing the blood spatter and large amount of bloods that witnesses testified they found at Berreth’s home.
Reed further said, in working to convince the jury that Frazee was guilty of first-degree murder, that second-degree murder does not apply because “everything was premeditated and deliberated," she said. She also said that manslaughter did not apply in the case.
She said the jury should find Frazee guilty of solicitation because of Kenney’s testimony that he asked her to come to Colorado to kill Berreth on three separate occasions – the Sept. 23 coffee incident, the Oct. 15 pipe incident, and when Frazee allegedly told Kenney to bring a bat on Oct. 21 – so he wouldn’t be responsible.
“Krystal Kenney didn’t have to come forward. She could’ve stayed silent. But when she did come forward, she told us everything, including the things that subject her to criminal prosecution,” Reed said, adding that “everything” Kenney testified about during the trial was corroborated by physical evidence and that nothing about Frazee’s story was backed up by such evidence.
Reed also told jurors that they should convict Frazee on the tampering with a deceased human body count because he burned Berreth’s body, she said, and then disposed of it so no one could find the remains. Reed pointed to Kenney’s testimony that Frazee told her he was going to put the ashes in a landfill or river and that Teller County was a vast area.
She also reiterated that Kenney’s testimony was backed up by physical evidence from the phone records, receipts, and evidence recovered in Idaho, and said that “none” of what Frazee claimed about Berreth’s alleged abuse toward their daughter had been corroborated.
“You have to consider that Patrick Frazee concocted this story about protecting the innocent so he could cover his story,” Reed said.
She went back to the jail letters exchanged between Frazee and another inmate, which were unveiled in court last Friday, and said that the point of that evidence was that Frazee “knows he’s guilty.”
Reed told the jury they don’t have to decide why Frazee allegedly killed Berreth – it could be for various reasons in various jurors’ minds, she said.
“We all want to understand it, but that’s not what you’re being called upon to answer in this case,” Reed said.
She then outlined the definition of reasonable doubt and asked if Frazee didn’t commit this crime, why was there a coverup, an alibi-obtaining trip, the phone scheme, and more.
She also asked why Berreth’s gun was found in the hands of one of Kenney’s friends and why Frazee asked a Verizon employee on Dec. 11, 2018 if somebody could get information from a destroyed phone.
“No body, no crime,” Reed said, quoting a witness’s testimony of what Frazee told him. “That’s what the defendant has been banking on for several months. …The problem for him is the evidence.”
It was a “cruel murder,” no matter what way you look at it, Reed said, adding the evidence against Frazee was “compelling” and that “it’s overwhelming that the defendant is guilty.”
She again told the jurors not to check the boxes for second-degree murder or manslaughter – saying the premeditation was clear.
“The courtroom is where the truth is revealed, and the truth is laid bare,” she said. “In the courtroom is where the coverup, secrecy and deceit come to light. Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence compels you to one verdict and one verdict only — and that is that the defendant is guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation. He is guilty of soliciting Krystal Kenney. And he is guilty of tampering with a deceased human body.”
The court then went on a 20-minute break ahead of Frazee’s defense’s closing arguments.
Defense closes by listing unanswered questions, holes in witnesses’ testimonies
Attorney Adam Stiegerwald handled the closing arguments for Frazee’s defense team. He 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.
“You are being asked to ignore your common sense and the direct evidence that has been presented to you the last two-plus weeks, and to listen to the circumstantial evidence that supports a story made up by Krystal Kenney after she had the district attorneys sign on the dotted line,” Stiegerwald said, again attacking her over the plea deal she reached with prosecutors before she had to give a formal statement in the case.
Stiegerwald said some of the timeline that witnesses testified about was “made up” and that it was “created … to fit Krystal Kenney’s story.”
“It’s OK to make mistakes, but you cannot build an entire case on it and refuse to acknowledge them,” Stiegerwald said. “This is where it all starts, and it’s made up.”
He told jurors that if the timeline was wrong, the case should come crumbling down. And he continued hammering at video evidence from outside Berreth’s townhome, noting that none of the videos showed Frazee entering the townhome with a bat or with the black tote, nor was there any video of him leaving with the tote that allegedly contained Berreth’s body.
Stiegerwald told the court that there was no blood evidence found on Frazee’s clothing nor inside Berreth’s washing machine and worked to discredit testimony from Kenney and from a blood analyst.
He said that the jury would have to believe Kenney in order to believe the rest of the evidence and said that “there is nothing that she talked about that is believable.”
He again – as he did during his cross-examination of Kenney – worked to establish the multiple times that Kenney could have called police about Frazee’s alleged plot but didn’t, and about the times that she could have told others about the alleged cleanup afterward but did not – even originally lying to the FBI before she agreed to come to Colorado and speak to investigators following the plea deal.
“Is there anybody that believes that? It is absurd. This is the foundation upon which the prosecution has built their case, and it cannot rely on those two things: The timeline and Krystal Kenney’s story,” Stiegerwald told the court.
“Why does she come to Colorado even once to commit murder – let alone twice? Let alone a third time? Let alone a fourth time to supposedly clean up a crime scene,” Stiegerwald continued. “No one believes that.”
He said that Kenney’s claim that Frazee killed Berreth on Thanksgiving didn’t make sense – saying it was “the worst plan” because there are few others days when a person would be less likely to be alone than on a major holiday, and others living near Berreth would have likely been home that afternoon and could have heard or witnessed the alleged murder. He also noted that her kitchen window blinds were open for 48 hours after the alleged murder and nobody saw anything.
Stiegerwald said if Frazee really wanted to kill Berreth, he could have done so when they were in the "middle of nowhere" in Florissant the prior evening.
He also noted to the jury that prosecutors did not try burning the identical black tote that was brought to court to see how it reacted and if it melted in the same fashion the one Frazee allegedly burned did.
“They didn’t want to know that answer,” Stiegerwald told the court.
Stiegerwald then asked about the K-9s that were used in the investigation. They had a positive hit on only three items — Berreth’s underwear in her townhome, the back of her Corolla and the top of a hay bale in Nash Ranch. He noted that investigators brought a K-9 to Nash Ranch and forced the dog to go up on top of the 12-foot hay bale. They claimed the dog had smelled human decomposition and sat down. Stiegerwald argued the K-9 was likely just afraid and sat.
“There’s no way to know if these dogs are 100% reliable,” he said.
In addition, Kenney’s DNA was not found anywhere. The prosecution claimed she’s a nurse and therefore knew how to cover herself head to toe, but Stiegerwald said the investigators collecting DNA in this case are also experts. Agents with the CBI and FBI even left behind DNA, he said. Sue Gorney’s DNA was found in the townhome as well, and she hadn’t lived there for seven months.
Frazee’s DNA wasn’t anywhere inside of the townhome either, Stiegerwald said.
“His DNA is not found in this house like it would be if this crime was committed,” he said.
Lastly, he asked why Frazee would tell so many people he knew about how he wanted to kill Berreth.
Stiegerwald said if somebody is planning a murder, they typically don’t tell lots of people about it. But saying those comments also doesn’t make him guilty, Stiegerwald said. There has been too much attention on the “stupid things” he allegedly told his friends, he added. He was alluding to a couple testimonies, including that of John Moore, a longtime friend of Frazee, who said Frazee told him ‘I figured out a way to kill her’ on April 26, 2018. Moore also testified that on Dec. 20, 2018, Frazee told him, “If I had known it would have blown up this big, I never would have —” and didn’t finish sentence.
Frazee was dealing with the loss of his father and a battle with his siblings and doesn’t have anybody to give him trusted advice, Stiegerwald said.
He also addressed Frazee’s alleged plan with a former inmate of the Teller County Jail. He said Frazee started to “freak out” in the 11 months leading up to the trial and started talking to the inmate, who is a convicted felon.
“That is not proof of anything,” Stiegerwald said. “That is only proof of being an idiot. Not proof of him doing anything.”
The District Attorney’s Office has built the entire case on the foundation, Stiegerwald said.
“When you realize how shaky the foundation is, the whole things come down,” he said.
Stiegerwald said this case is important to many people in the courtroom, as well as the jurors themselves.
He said the jury will need to cast their vote without any hesitation.
“If you have hesitation, it’s because Frazee is not guilty,” he said.
He said he understand how bad this entire case looks but reiterated that he was asking the jury to look past just how it looks, and instead, examine the evidence that “has been built on a foundation that cannot support it.”
Prosecution rebuttal: ’Find him guilty on all charges’
During a rebuttal, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Dan May said the defense doesn’t want to explain what happened to Berreth. He described the daily phone calls Berreth would have with her mother, how her coworkers described her as kind, sweet and reliable — it doesn’t sound like somebody who would just disappear on their own, May said.
Berreth can’t walk through that door, he said, pointing to the courtroom’s swinging doors, but the jury can provide justice by holding Frazee accountable.
He said the prosecution does not want the jurors to apply speculation, but to look at the facts. He said Frazee had trashed Berreth’s reputation well before she went missing.
May then listed out pieces of direct evidence, including Kenney’s testimony. He said her story on cleaning the townhouse, taking to the tote to Nash Ranch and burning it is all direct evidence, not circumstantial. She led them to the burn scar area on Frazee’s ranch on her own, and pointed at the exact spot where they would later uncover burned plastic and a large wet spot. That’s also where they found the partial human tooth, May said.
He reintroduced the timeline of Frazee’s, Berreth’s and Kenney’s phones traveling around the area.
“That timeline doesn’t match Frazee’s story at all — it matches everything that Kenney said,” May said.
Kenney’s plea bargain is built on her telling the truth, May said.
May also addressed some of Stiegerwald’s arguments, including that the kitchen window blinds were left open for two days after the alleged murder. May said the window looked out to a private walkway and Berreth’s neighbors were gone on Thanksgiving, which is why they didn’t see or hear anything. He said Stiegerwald pointed out that Kenney’s DNA was missing from the townhome, but the DNA expert said on the stand that she wasn’t surprised by this, based on what Kenney said she been wearing.
As far as the neighbor’s surveillance footage, May said the defense wants the jury to speculate on the camera, which only picks up movement about 50 percent of the time.
“What were Frazee’s actions? He took a bat into Berreth’s apartment and he beat her, and he beat her, and he beat her, and he beat her. And in some point in that, the victim said, ‘Will you please stop?’” May said.
We want to hold him accountable, he said.
“We are asking you to please stop this defendant from getting away with murder, and find him guilty on all charges,” May said.
Closing statements ended at 11:08 a.m. and the jury was escorted out of the room. Court went into recess at 11:18 a.m.
Live tweeting and live reporting has not allowed in the courtroom, per a court decorum, since the beginning of the trial.