CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo.– Colorado jurors are now deciding if Patrick Frazee is guilty of killing his 29-year-old fiancee Kelsey Berreth on Thanksgiving Day of 2018. After two weeks of witnesses, evidence and testimony, prosecutors and the defense got their last moment to make their case
Frazee has been charged with eight crimes, including solicitation of murder, tampering with evidence and first degree murder. Berreth went missing on November 22, 2018, and her body still hasn’t been found.
The case revolves around the testimony of Krystal Lee, Frazee’s former girlfriend
The day began with Judge Scott Sells instructing seven female and five male jurors how to proceed their deliberation, only considering the facts of this case, and having no communication or research about the trial to influence a decision. Frazee wore a blue-stripped-dress shirt, staring at the jurors during instruction.
Defense makes final statements
Patrick Frazee’s defense attorney, Adam Steigerwald, addressed jurors directly as soon as a quick recess was over.
“You are being asked to ignore your common sense and the evidence,” Steigerwald said. “Your’e being asked to consider circumstantial evidence and the testimony of Krystal Lee after she signed on the dotted line.”
Steigerwald went to work, poking holes in prosecution’s witness testimony and attacking Krystal Lee’s credibility. “You have to believe Krystal Lee before you can believe the rest of this evidence.”
Steigerwald argued the prosecution laid out a story based on Krystal Lee’s testimony and built evidence around that timeline to support it. He started asking the jurors questions.
“What there is not? There is no image of Patrick going inside with a bat. There is no image of Frazee going inside with a tote. No explanation for where Patrick Frazee’s truck was parked for hours during Thanksgiving,” Steigerwald said as he points to motion-censored surveillance footage of Frazee entering Berreth’s condo holding something in his left hand. Prosecutors claim Frazee is carrying the container to conceal Berreth’s body. Steigerwald picks up a replica tote in the courtroom, saying it’s heavy to pick up even when empty.
“You have to lug it,” he said. “You can’t sneak by a motion security camera.”
Steigerwald then pivots to questioning how the evidence supports the “horrific bloody crime scene” Lee describes when entering the apartment.
“If Krystal Lee description of the scene is accurate, that this is some horrific bloody scene, why is there no image of blood on Frazee?” he asked. “Why is there no DNA evidence in Berreth’s washing machine? There is still not a single image of Krystal coming or going, let alone anyone that sees it happen. Why isn’t Krystal’s DNA anywhere in the apartment? Why isn’t Patrick’s DNA there? If he created the scene Lee described, there would be sweat and traces of his DNA.”
“If Frazee hit Berreth 10-15 times with a baseball bat, nobody hears a single thing, and no-one sees anything from the kitchen window that isn’t covered for two days,” Steigerwald said.
The defense pointed out how the motives of Lee coming to Colorado, or Frazee discussing a potential murder with his friends doesn’t make sense.
“There are questions all of us have? Why does she (Lee) come to Colorado once to commit murder? Let alone two times, let alone three or four times. There is nobody who would act that way, but that’s what the prosecution needs you to believe.”
“It’s the worst plan anybody could come up with!” Steigerwald said. “Is there a day of the year where anyone is less likely to be alone, less likely to be missed, less likely to speak to family than Thanksgiving?”
Steigerwald looks at the physical evidence, including the tooth fragment found on Frazee’s ranch, but questions why the tooth has no burnt plastic or metal on it, if the story is that Berreth’s body was burned inside a black-plastic tote container.
Steigerwald closed by calling for the jury to look past Lee’s story, trying to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s circumstantial evidence.
“I know how bad this looks, but you 16 were chosen to look past that and look on the evidence,” Steigerwald said.
District Attorney Dan May responds
Dan May spent time reviewing the physical evidence, telling jurors the defense wants them to speculate. He rounded out closing statements by saying, “We want you to hold him (Frazee) accountable.”
“He took a bat into Kelsey’s apartment, and he beat her, and he beat her and he beat her,” May said as his voice escalated with each repetition, counting up on both hands as he went. “And he beat her- leaving a blood bath for someone else to clean up- and he beat her.” He stopped after 15 counts on his fingers, adding “And who knows how many more.”
“Please stop this man from getting away with murder,” May said.
Prosecution sums up its case
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Reed stood up slowly in the courtroom. “We all wish Kelsey Berreth could walk through that door right now,” she said. “That’s never going to happen.”
Reed laid out Berreth’s final known actions. Conversations with co-workers about a Christmas party, and whether Frazee would attend, going to Walmart to buy medication for Frazee in the middle of the night, because he had fallen ill.
“While Kelsey Berreth is planning the future, this man was plotting her murder for months. Months!” As she points directly at Frazee. “This is not consistent with someone who’s going to talk off and leave her child. Not consistent with someone who is suicidal. It’s consistent with someone who is planning the future with the man she plans to marry.”
Prosecutors went through receipts, detailing the shopping trip at Safeway. She bought sweet potatoes, texting Frazee about a casserole recipe. “Kelsey Berreth was planning Thanksgiving Dinner,” Reed said. “She’s never going to eat it, because he knows he’s going to kill her.”
Reed went slide after slide, poking holes in Frazee’s timeline of events. He was seen with video surveillance at the Federal Credit Union and Walmart in town. According to Frazee, at 2:45 p.m. he went back to Florrisant to check on his cattle.
“He’s not home for Thanksgiving Dinner, he’s in Woodland Park because he just killed Kelsey Berreth,” Reed said, pointing towards cellphone records that show Frazee’s phone pinged off a cellphone tower in Woodland Park at that time.
A video surveillance camera shows Frazee’s truck leaving Berreth’s neighborhood around 4:40 p.m. A large black-tote box seen in the back of his truck.
“Kelsey Berreth is in that box. Her beaten and battered body is in that box,” Reed said. “He’s taking it back to his house because he’s going to eat Thanksgiving Dinner with Berreth in his truck.”
The prosecution reviewed the definition of deliberation, outlining the testimony from witnesses that back up Frazee has talked to people in advance, making a push that first degree murder is the only charge that makes sense.
“Second degree murder does not apply in this case,” Reed said. “There is nothing about this case that screams degree murder. Everything is premeditated. Everything is deliberated. Do not check that box on your verdict.”
Reed also backed up Krystal Lee’s character, trying to prove to jurors she is someone who they can trust.
“She didn’t have to come forward at all, but when she did come forward she told us everything,” Reed said. “Including the things that subject her to criminal prosecution.” Reed continued by saying everything Lee said can be backed up by evidence. “Everything the defendant said is contradicted by the evidence.”