Testimony in the hearing of a Colorado rancher indicted of beating his fiancee to death with a baseball bat wrapped up Friday with charges from a jail inmate who said he was asked to execute the key witness in the case, a call that defense attorneys called into inquiry.
Prosecutors have got on explosive proof to build their case against Patrick Frazee, including from a previous Idaho nurse he was having an affair with who have expressed helping clean up blood and seeing him burn a bag she believed included Kelsey Berreth’s body.
Berreth’s remains haven’t been discovered nearly a year after she disappeared on Thanksgiving, and there’s little physical proof in the case. Prosecutors have not given a motive for the murder. Defense attorneys have asked into question the credibility of the on-and-off lover, Krystal Lee, and the jail inmate.
Frazee refused to testify, and his lawyers didn’t call any onlookers of their own. Closing arguments had been assumed to follow the end of testimony, but prosecutors and the judge still need to work out jury directions. They are now scheduled for Monday, and the jury will start considering afterward.
On Friday, prior Denver detective Jonathyn Priest said Berreth was possible struck 15 or more times with the bat, giving drops of blood splattered nearby her townhome. Her father leaned forward and screamed as Priest testified.
Prosecutors tell the couple’s 1-year-old daughter was in a nearby room when her mother was murdered.
Inmate Jacob Bentley proved that Frazee asked him many times to kill Lee, her relatives, the lead prosecutor in the case, Gregg Slater, and others while the two were housed near each other in prison.
Slater proved that Bentley gave notes with the requests and details about locating Lee that appeared to be in Frazee’s writing.
Frazee’s attorney, Adam Steigerwald, asked Bentley’s credibility. He said Bentley was expected to witness in another case that a defendant also had suggested him to kill a witness.
Bentley, who said he told Frazee he was a member of a prison group, asserted that he was not assured anything in exchange for his proof. However, prosecutor Beth Reed said Bentley had urged for cases against him to be settled in one county.
Berreth, a 29-year-old flight instructor, was last detected shopping with the couple’s daughter last Holiday.
The defense has concentrated on the lack of a body, cause and murder weapon. They also point out that surveillance clip showing Frazee entering and dropping Berreth’s home on the day that prosecutors say she was murdered has him dressing the same clothes without any bloodstains.
Lee, who has known Frazee for over a long time, acknowledged receiving Berreth’s cellphone with her to Idaho at Frazee’s proposal to try to deceive investigators about Berreth’s locations. She entered a plea deal with prosecutors for tampering with evidence and faces up to three years in jail.
Frazee’s attorneys stressed that she just chatted about what happened after striking a deal and questioned her credibility because she initially told officials she did not know who Berreth was.
An unfinished human tooth was found on Frazee’s property where Lee says she saw him burn a plastic tote carrying Berreth’s body. There was not enough DNA to discover whom the tooth belonged to.
An expert proved that the burned plastic residue found close to a spot of oily dirt was consistent with a body being burned but noticed that motor oil could have also left a related stain.
Defense attorneys told no DNA evidence tied to Lee was found at Berreth’s home. Colorado Bureau of Investigation interpreter Caitlin Rogers said that she did not sense her because the bleach that Lee said she used to clean up damages DNA.
While prosecutors have not provided a reason, Berreth’s parents claim in a wrongful-death lawsuit that they think Frazee wanted full custody of the couple’s girl. She now lives with them.