Patrick Frazee has been found guilty of killing his fiancé Kelsey Berreth in a premeditated, calculated and brutal attack on Thanksgiving day last year.
It took the Teller County jury just over two and a half hours to find Frazee guilty on all eight counts – murder in the first degree, three counts of solicitation to murder, felony murder and tampering with a dead body.
Judge Scott Sells sentenced Frazee to life without parole for murder in the first degree and felony murder, to be followed by three consecutive sentences of the maximum 48 years each for the three counts of solicitation to murder and the maximum of 12 years for tampering with a body again to run consecutively and be followed by five years parole. In total he sentenced Frazee to life without parole plus 156 years.
In an excoriating decision handed down today after the unanimous guilty verdict, Judge Sells called Frazee’s actions ‘vicious, senseless and without reason or explanation’.
‘Kelsey spent her last night caring for you and you repaid that kindness by viciously beating her to death the following day,’ Sells told the defendant, a 33-year-old Colorado farrier and cattleman.
The family and the prosecution had asked for the maximum sentences on each of the eight counts, and the judge obliged. Berreth’s mother, Cheryl, and brother, Clint, listened to the sentencing announcement on speaker phone.
Sells said, ‘Kelsey was a wonderful mother, a beloved daughter, sister and accomplished pilot. Your crimes deserved the maximum punishment legally available in the state of Colorado and I intend to do that.’
Patrick Frazee, 33, has been found guilty of murdering his fiancée and the mother of his daughter, Kelsey Berreth, 29, last Thanksgiving Day
CHERYL BERRETH IMPACT STATEMENT
Patrick took Kelsey’s life. She was our daughter a devoted loving mother, a sister, a friend and a valued pilot teaching the military how to fly.
She was beautiful inside and out regardless of what Patrick has told others. Those who knew her knew this. Those who did not may have believed Patrick’s lies. Her reputation has been damaged by him after death. He also told stories about his own family. He was always the victim.
He not only killed our daughter, but he chose a horrific death for her, beating her head with a baseball bat while she tried to escape. He stored Kelsey’s body in a tote while he ate Thanksgiving dinner with his family. He showed no remorse.
He sent me a message wishing me Happy Thanksgiving. What a sick man.
Days after, he and his accomplice destroyed her body and gave her a dishonorable internment.
He did all of this in front of his 13-month-old daughter and yet he fails to see the harm he has done her….
Nothing will fill the holes in our hearts.
We have suffered through [all this] knowing the trial will most likely end the week of our 35th wedding anniversary. The verdict will be given, and we will not be together… We have had to re-evaluate our faith in God. Every time I put my hand to my face I imagine what Kelsey went through. Everything to this point as been about Patrick’s rights.
It’s time Kelsey’s rights received consideration.
We ask that Patrick be charged with the maximum sentence for the harm he has caused and that all of his parental rights be revoked permanently and immediately.
We intend to adopt Kaylee. We, including Kaylee, have suffered long enough. Our lives must no longer be dictated by the State of Colorado or Idaho. It’s time for our family to have closure and move on.
Berreth’s family members wept and embraced the prosecution team after the sentence was handed down.
Frazee’s mother, Sheila, cast a solitary figure as she sat in the second row of the public gallery. She remained seated while others stood for the jury’s dismissal, her glasses pushed up on her head, her eyes cast down.
The victim’s family asked for a no contact order to be instrumented between their family and the Frazees. In a statement read out in court, her mother described the family’s as having displayed cowardice in with-holding information and choosing to support a murdered.
They also announced their intention to adopt Berreth’s child and asked that the usual procedures be streamlined in what was an extraordinary case to allow them closure and the freedom to get on with their lives.
The family acknowledged that without Krystal Lee Kenney’s cooperation a conviction would have been ‘difficult if not impossible’ but they were clear in their belief that she should have received a heavier potential sentence than the maximum three years as per her plea deal.
His voice breaking with emotion Berreth’s uncle, Scott Morrin, read a lengthy statement from his sister, her mother, Cheryl, as well as letters from former colleagues and an account of his own devastation at the loss of his beloved niece.
‘We have yet to see any remorse for anything other than getting caught,’ Cheryl wrote. ‘The only thing she didn’t do was swing the bat.’
The family did not seek the death penalty because, Cheryl said, ‘We believe in a forgiving savior and hope that Patrick will take this opportunity to repent and seek His forgiveness.
‘We respect life and leave Patrick’s in God’s hands. It’s not ours to take. ‘
Offering his own statement, Morrin told the judge: ‘I want to thank you for justice. It’s been our prayer, as we’ve prayed on what to do what to think what to say.
‘We’ve prayed for justice. We’ve prayed that we would be able to accept that justice and today I’m praising God that justice is here
‘I’m a hugger. Kelsey was a great one to hug. Not only was she loved but she loved everyone else and that’s gone but not forgotten
‘I’m sick to my stomach at what has taken place. We have questioned our faith we have questioned just to know why. And we know we’ll never know.
‘But I praise God for whatever reason this happened my prayer continues that He is glorified and I think you again for your justice and fairness and competence.’
Speaking after the verdict, District Attorney Dan May said, ‘We formed a special relationship with the Berreths. I think they’re the salt of the earth. They’re private people. It’s been a very difficult time for them but the judges words and decisive sentence have given them a sense that justice was done. How long that will last I don’t know.’
Asked how the family are coping with the absence of a body to bury he said, ‘They’re very religious they know exactly where Kelsey is today I think that goes a long way.’
Assistant District Attorney Beth Reed told the jury Monday how Berreth helped Frazee gather cattle and drove him to get medicine the morning she disappeared. ‘While Kelsey Berreth is planning a future, this man has been plotting to kill her for months, months,’ Reed said
FRAZEE CASE TIMELINE
November 22, 2018 – Kelsey Berreth is seen alive for the last time on surveillance video at a grocery store in Woodland Park on Thanksgiving Day. Prosecutors say Patrick Frazee beat her to death hours later
November 25, 2018 – Berreth’s phone pings off a cell tower in Idaho. Investigators later charge that Frazee gave the phone to his girlfriend, Krystal Kenney, who drove the phone to Idaho to make it appear that Berreth was there
December 2, 2018 – Berreth is reported missing by her mother, Cheryl Berreth
December 4, 2018 – Investigators search Berreth’s home. A trained cadaver dog picks up on scents indicated someone may have died there
December 14, 2018 – Investigator’s search Frazee’s property in Florissant
December 21, 2018 – Frazee is arrested and charged with Berreth’s murder
January 7, 2019 – Berreth’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit against Frazee
February 8, 2019 – Kenney, Frazee’s girlfriend, pleads guilty to a felony tampering charge. She is set to be sentenced following the conclusion of Frazee’s trial
May 24, 2019 – Frazee pleads not guilty to all eight counts related to Berreth’s murder
June 14, 2019 – A tooth fragment believed to belong to Berreth is discovered on Frazee’s farm as investigators continue search for her body
November 1, 2019 – Frazee’s murder trial begins in Teller County Court
November 19, 2019 – Frazee is found guilty on all eight counts and is sentenced to life without parole plus 165 years.
The court heard on Monday during closing statements that Berreth spent the final hours of her life helping and planning a future with the man who was plotting to kill her.
This was the damning conclusion presented to the jury in the prosecution’s closing statements of Patrick Frazee’s murder trial in Teller County District Court, Colorado Monday morning.
‘We all wish Kelsey Berreth would walk through the door right now,’ Assistant District Attorney Beth Reed began. ‘That’s never going to happen.’
The words, she said, Frazee, 33, himself used days before the search for Berreth, 29, turned into a murder investigation.
Reed set out the hours leading up to Berreth’s death – how she helped Frazee gather cattle, how she drove to town to get him medication when he felt unwell, how she spent her final hours searching the internet for ways to help stomach ulcers and recipes for Thanksgiving dishes.
Pointing to where Frazee sat in court, head bowed, Reed said, ‘While Kelsey Berreth is planning a future, this man has been plotting to kill her for months, months.’
The jury has now gone into deliberations after hearing the defense’s final remarks.
Shortly before 1pm the jury came back with a request to see a copy of a still image shown in the defense’s closing statement.
The picture was a time-stamped picture of Patrick Frazee at the door to Berreth’s condo holding something in his hand. The prosecution claim this could be a tote – the defense ridiculed that notion
Reed said: ‘He knows when she goes to the store at Safeway (where she was last pictured alive) to get sweet potatoes and getting a recipe for bread dip she’s never going to eat it because he’s going to kill her.’
Chilling footage of Frazee pulling away from an ATM on November 22 in his red truck, a black plastic tote clearly visible in the flat bed behind him was shown on the white screen.
The next time that tote was visible, Reed contested, it contained Berreth’s bloody and beaten body which remained sitting there while Frazee drove to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
Reed told the jury how Frazee had ‘fabricated and manipulated’ text communications across the following days to lead others to believe that Berreth was still alive after November 22.
He claimed to have had conversations and to have received a final text from her, reading: ‘Do you even love me?’ on November 25 – by which time records showed her phone was connected to that of Frazee’s on-off mistress Krystal Lee Kenney, 32, who was back in Idaho having traveled to Colorado to clean up the ‘mess’ Frazee had left behind.
Reed reminded the jury that Frazee made zero attempts to communicate with Berreth after this date despite the fact that cops were entirely in the dark as to her fate and hopes remained to find her alive.
But while others were out looking for Berreth, Reed said, ‘Before this becomes a homicide investigation,’ Frazee was out looking for an alibi, making sure he was on surveillance footage at Walmart and seeking out similar footage from a bank ATM the day after Thanksgiving.
Reed said that in the last month her Berreth’s life, Frazee ‘poisoned the well’ by telling people she was an abusive mother, though there is no evidence
The murder trial is largely resting on Frazee’s mistress Krystal Lee Kenney’s testimony that Frazee coerced her into cleaning up evidence after the murder
Three days before law enforcement even became aware of Kenney, Reed noted, Frazee was at a Verizon store asking, ‘Can you get information from a destroyed phone?’
As she pressed and pressed for the jury to find Frazee guilty of murder in the first degree, she reminded the jury of what she said was proof that this act was, ‘the culmination of a long standing plan.’
She said, ‘Everything was deliberate, everything was premeditated.’
And everything was brutal.
Last week the jury heard from blood spatter expert Jonathyn Priest who estimated that Berreth was beaten ten, maybe 15 times, maybe more with a baseball bat to cause her death and leave behind the bloody crime scene described by Kenney.
She reminded Frazee’s own words according to Kenney, ‘I wouldn’t do it that way again; it was inhumane.’
She said, ‘The defendant. His words. It was inhumane.’
And she reminded them of Berreth’s last words, ‘Please Stop.’
Last week the court heard from Frazee’s friend, Joe Moore who testified that he told him, ‘I’ve found a way to kill her,’ and they heard from Kenney who told them that Frazee had tried to get her to kill Berreth three times.
Addressing the credibility of Kenney who the defense had at one point thought to present as an alternative suspect, Reed said, ‘Everything that Krystal Lee told you is corroborated by evidence.’
Reed reminded the jury how Kenney had ‘walked right up’ to the burn site on Frazee’s remote ranch.
Two expert witnesses last week testified to there being evidence of a human body being burnt to the point of consumption at that site along with fragments of a human female’s tooth.
Reed asked, ‘Do you know how much of the defendant’s story is corroborated? Zero. None. In fact everything is contradicted.’
She reminded the jury of the detailed and damning timeline painstakingly reconstructed from phone records of texts, calls and ‘pings’ that placed Kenney in Colorado and Berreth’s phone first with Frazee and then, ultimately, with Kenney in Idaho.
Pictured: Frazee’s property where authorities say he burned Berreth’s body in a pit
Frazee is charged on eight counts – Murder in the first degree, felony murder in the first degree, three counts of solicitation to murder and tampering with a deceased body.
Judge Scott Sells explained the elements that had to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt for them to convict Frazee of murder in the first degree – these included not only that he acted intentionally but that he did so ‘after the act of reflection and judgement and considering the end.’
He told them that if they did not find this proved beyond reasonable doubt then the lesser crimes of murder in the second degree or manslaughter were open to them.
Frazee’s mistress Idaho nurse Kyrstal Lee Kenney testified saying Frazee beat Berreth to death with a baseball bat and burned her body
Prosecutor Reed urged the jury not to tick those boxes on their verdict sheets but to find him guilty on all counts as charged.
During the last months of her life, Reed stated, Frazee ‘poisoned the well’ by telling others – including Kenney – that Berreth was an abusive mother though there was no corroborating evidence for any of his claims.
According to Reed, ‘At the end of the day you have to look at this case and what is going on in his head at this time.
‘He has a motive that he wants to assert. He’s poisoning the well. He wants people to believe, specifically, Krystal Lee to believe, that Kelsey is abusing Kaylee.’
‘He tells of incidents of a hand slammed in the door, burns from a straightening iron. None of this is corroborated. Everyone who saw her said Kaylee appeared happy and healthy.
‘The defendant has concocted an excuse,’ Reed insisted, ‘A reason to try to get custody.’
A reason, perhaps, to kill. Turning back to the jury Reed addressed the thorny issue of motive.
She said some might think it financial – there was testimony last week that suggested Frazee may at one point have been the beneficiary of Berreth’s life insurance.
Some, Reed continued, might think Frazee’s reason was a loss of control of his relationship with Berreth and his daughter.
But the truth, Reed said pointing to Frazee, ‘Is that only one person knows that [motive] which is why you as jurors don’t have to find one.’
‘No body. No crime. That’s what the defendant has been banking on for several months. That’s what he’s banking on [today].’
But everything in Frazee’s behavior following Berreth’s disappearance, the cell phone trail, the burn pit forensics and the DNA and blood retrieved from the scene points, she said, to his guilt.
Last week the court heard from a former inmate who told how Frazee had tried to take out hits on key witnesses including Kenney, his friend Joe Moore, the Berreth family and lead investigator Gregg Slater.
‘It speaks volumes about his state of mind,’ she said.
She urged, ‘In every sense of the word this was premeditated calculated and cruel murder no matter which way you look at it.
‘The courtroom is where the truth is laid bare, where the veil of cover up and deceit on the part of this defendant comes to light.
‘Ladies and gentleman,’ Reed concluded, ‘The evidence compels you to one verdict and one verdict only and that is that the defendant is Guilty..guilty…guilty.’
Cellphone signal, landline calls and surveillance stills from a variety of stores near Berreth’s home directly contradicts Frazee’s account of the last time he saw Berreth
Teller County Court House where Frazee is being tried for the murder of his fiancee
Public defender Adam Steigerwald ridiculed the prosecution’s case in his closing – claiming that the foundations on which it is built are a ‘made-up timeline’ and the testimony of an utterly incredible witness in the form of Krystal Lee Kenney – and said his client was not a murderer, he was an idiot.
He said, ‘Patrick Frazee came off like a total fool, the only reason I’m not using stronger language is we’re in this court room.
‘Too much attention meant he said stupid things. What sort of person tells their friend, ‘I’ve found a way of killing her,’ if they intend to commit a murder?
‘He does stupid things and that allows the prosecution to build this circumstantial case around him. He acts the fool and as the trial approaches he starts talking to a gang member in jail that is not proof of a crime. It is proof of being an idiot.’
Steigerwald dismissed the timeline built in part from motion activated cameras mounted on one of Berreth’s neighbor’s house as ‘made up.’
There were no images Kenney at all he pointed out, though she claimed she had cleaned the door from the outside and there was no image of Frazee carrying a tote despite investigators claiming it was possible.
He said, ‘If this is the culmination of a plan that Patrick Frazee had come up with over months it is the worst plan anybody could have come up with.
‘Is there a day of the year when people are less likely to be alone and less likely to be missed by their family than Thanksgiving?
‘And why Kelsey’s condo? You heard that Patrick and Kelsey were out in the middle of nowhere checking cattle in the middle of night. So why would he pick the tiny condo – the worst location in the world when he was out on the middle of nowhere with her hours before.’
Steigerwald stated that there was not one image of Frazee leaving the house with a tote or with any blood on him.
He asked , ‘Why is there no DNA in Kelsey’s house in the washing machine if he supposedly sat and washed his clothes?’
As for Kenney he asked, ‘Why would you believe anything she said?’ before he outlined what he presented as an entirely nonsensical narrative that was ‘the best she could come up with to stay out of jail.’
Steigerwald said, ‘Krystal lee told investigators that she did [everything] in a way that she wanted to be caught.
‘She would have you believe that in furtherance of being caught she travelled to Colorado four times in three months, that she drove her through the night on Thanksgiving and at some point she realized she was driving to come to clean up a murder scene.
‘That she didn’t call the police but she picked up the keys from the person she believed had carried out that murder, spent four hours cleaning it up, carried bloody evidence out into her friend’s car, that had expired tax, dragging it across half the states.
‘Then she picked up a burger and coke and went to Patrick’s house, stood and watched him light a fire, had a slice of pizza and water and drove home.’
On Friday the jury heard how Frazee solicited help on multiple occasions to kill Kenney as well as several other witnesses who could testify against him
He mocked Kenney’s claims that she was ‘terrified’ of Frazee saying, ‘So she talks to him a couple of hundred times, goes on vacation with her friends in Vegas and when she gets a call from the FBI she lies to them.’
Only after striking a deal with the DA, he said, did she, ‘Come up with the best story she can come up with sits down and says whatever she has to to stay out of jail.
‘Is there anybody who believes this? This is the evidence on which the prosecution has built their case.’
Steigerwald dismissed blood spatter expert Jonathyn Priest who’s imagining of the scene was so damaging by saying that despite his ‘smooth presentation’ he was analyzing ‘evidence that doesn’t exist.’ His analysis was based ‘solely on Krystal Lee’s word.’
Steigerwald addressed the jury, ‘You have to be able to cast your vote without hesitation and if you have hesitation it is because Patrick Frazee is not guilty, and the prosecution has built their case on a foundation that cannot support it.’
He added, ‘I get how bad this looks. But we are asking you to look past that and find him not guilty.’
In a strong rebuttal DA Dan May reminded the jury of what he said was hard evidence of Frazee’s guilt.
In a painful rhetoric he told the jury to find Frazee guilty telling them, ‘he beat her and he beat her and he beat her…’ repeating the phrase fifteen times and he brought their thoughts back to the heart of the case – to Berreth and her loss.
He reminded them that Berreth was a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend and that the last time her daughter ever saw, touched, heard or cuddled her was almost exactly one year ago.
He said, ‘I wish justice could bring Kelsey back to that door, but it can’t. But we are asking you to hold this defendant accountable.
‘That is what justice can do in this case.’
The jury was dismissed to being its deliberations at 11.12am.