CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. -- A jury found Patrick Frazee guilty of first-degree murder for killing his 29-year-old fiancee Kelsey Berreth on Thanksgiving 2018. The jury returned a verdict Monday afternoon, hours after deliberations began in Teller County District Court.
Berreth went missing on November 22, 2018, and her body still hasn't been found. Frazee, 33, was was on trial for beating Berreth to death with a baseball bat while their child was nearby.
He was found guilty on a total of six counts: two counts of first-degree murder, one count of tampering with a body, and three counts of solicitation to commit murder.
Frazee received the maximum sentence: life without the possibility of parole, plus 156 years in prison. Sentencing occurred shortly after the verdict Monday afternoon. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against Frazee.
In closing arguments, Frazee attorney Adam Steigerwald had attacked the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness, Krystal Lee, a former Idaho nurse who had been romantically involved with Frazee off and on for over a decade.
She testified that Frazee asked her to come to Colorado to clean up the scene of the killing and that she watched him burn a plastic tote she believed contained Berreth’s body.
Steigerwald told jurors Lee invented a story to protect herself and did not claim that Frazee beat Berreth with a bat until after she finalized a plea deal with prosecutors.
Prosecutor Beth Reed told jurors that evidence corroborates Lee’s testimony. She also suggested several possible motives Frazee may have had for killing Berreth, including not wanting to pay child support and wanting full custody of the couple’s young daughter.
Testimony wrapped up Friday with a jail inmate alleging that Frazee tried to get him to kill witnesses in the case. While they were housed near each other in jail, Jacob Bentley said Frazee asked him to kill Lee.
Bentley also testified that Frazee wanted him to kill lead investigator Gregg Slater, Lee’s relatives and others. Slater said notes provided by Bentley appeared to be in Frazee’s handwriting.
Frazee’s lawyer questioned Bentley’s credibility. He said Bentley was expected to testify in another case in which a defendant also asked him to kill a witness.
Frazee’s defense has also highlighted the lack of a body, motive and murder weapon during the trial.