CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. — A jury was sworn in on Friday afternoon, for the Patrick Frazee trial at the Teller County Courthouse in Cripple Creek, and opening statements were heard.
Frazee is accused of killing his fiance, and mother of his child, Kelsey Berreth, last Thanksgiving.
Friday in court, Frazee appeared reserved, clad in a blue and white striped shirt and jeans, and made no reaction when District Attorney Dan May alluded to Krystal Kenney’s involvement in the case.
Frazee is also accused of asking Kenney, his ex-girlfriend, to help him kill Berreth on several occasions.
Kenney pleaded guilty to her involvement in the case, and faces up to three years in prison. She has agreed to testify against Frazee as part of a plea deal.
If convicted, Frazee faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
By Friday, a group of 90 potential jurors had been whittled down from a preliminary pool of 1,750.
Prosecutors questioned the group for an hour on Friday morning. Each person in the group admitted to having experienced some type of exposure to the Frazee case.
When asked whether they felt comfortable deciding whether or not someone is guilty, one woman stood and said she did not – noting she’d always wonder if she had made the right decision.
Defense attorneys also questioned the group of potential jurors for an hour.
FOX21 News’ Daniela Leon was in the courtroom Friday, and noted Frazee paid close attention to each juror as they spoke.
Ultimately, 16 people were seated — 12 jurors and four alternates. Of the 12 jurors, seven are women and five are men. Of the alternates, two are men and two are women.
Prosecutors made their opening statement first on Friday afternoon. Attorney Jennifer Viehman pointed to a picture of Frazee in a red truck and referred to him as ‘a killer’. She described how Frazee drove to Berreth’s condo with a black box in the back of the truck, beat her to death with a baseball bat, and put her body in the box. Viehman told the jury Frazee took his fiance’s remains back to his Florissant home, and proceeded to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.
Frazee trained his gaze on the picture while Viehman spoke.
He looked down when she zeroed in on his relationship with Berreth, calling it ‘complicated’. Viehman said the two met online in 2015 and that Berreth moved from Washington to Colorado in hopes of marrying Frazee the following year.
She said the move caused conflict, however, because Frazee continued to live with his mother in Florissant, and Berreth, with no job, had to get her own apartment.
Frazee and Berreth continued to live apart. They had a daughter together in 2017, but prosecutors described a stressful, deteriorating relationship, saying Frazee manipulated people to believe his fiance was a negligent and abusive parent and partner.
They say Kenney, in particular, fell victim to that manipulation, detailing how Frazee lied about Berreth’s abuse to convince Kenney to help him kill her. Prosecutors say he even went so far as to threaten Kenney’s daughter if she didn’t comply.
But, Viehman said, Kenney couldn’t do it.
Instead, she said Frazee called on his ex to help clean after he murdered Berreth, describing the scene Kenney found at Berreth’s home as ‘horrific’.
In the days after Berreth was reported missing, prosecutors say Frazee made 46 phone calls to Kenney, and none to his fiance.
They called upon the jury to hold Frazee accountable for the murder of Kelsey Berreth and more.
In their opening statement, the defense team targetted Kenney’s testimony, on which police built their entire case. They say Kenney’s description of a horrific murder scene in Berreth’s house, isn’t represented by any evidence.
The defense tells the jury that Kelsey’s family went to her house and didn’t see anything that might indicate a crime had occurred there.
They also called upon the fact that no witnesses saw Frazee carrying a black box, even though Berreth lived in a neighborhood with multiple duplexes.
They mentioned that many parts of Kenney’s testimony could not be corroborated by either forensic or direct evidence. And said that while Frazee cooperated with law enforcement, Kenney destroyed evidence and lied.
Kelsey’s mother takes the stand
Cheryl Berreth, Kelsey’s mother, was the first witness called to the stand. Emotions ran high during her testimony.
Prosecutors asked her to describe the relationship between Frazee and her daughter. She called it “difficult.”
Cheryl Berreth said the couple met in 2015 through an online dating site, while Berreth was living in Washington. Berreth moved to Colorado in 2016, after Frazee said he wanted to marry her.
Cheryl Berreth also told the court the Frazee family wasn’t accepting of Berreth when she arrived. In fact, Frazee’s mother, Sheila, kicked her out after finding out she was pregnant, thinking Berreth hid her pregnancy on purpose.
Cheryl Berreth said her daughter moved to several different places in Colorado, but continued trying to make the relationship with Frazee work.
Once the couple’s daughter was born in 2017, she told the court, that baby girl became her daughter’s life.
Cheryl Berreth testified that she and Berreth had spoken on the phone on the day Berreth was last seen. She said her daughter did not mention a problem between her and Frazee during that call.
Cheryl Berreth broke into tears recalling the last time she spoke to her daughter. She said that she had also spoken to her daughter the night before Thanksgiving. She had heard Frazee was sick, and texted him to feel better and have a happy Thanksgiving. She said Frazee replied by saying “happy Thanksgiving to you too.”
Members of the Berreth family, including Kelsey’s brother, Clint, held back tears. There was no reaction from Frazee during that testimony.
The trial is expected to last at least three weeks.
The judge is not allowing any cameras in the courtroom or live reporting during the day.
Resources for victims of domestic violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call the hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit thehotline.org for free help 24 hours a day.
Violence Free Colorado: Visit violencefreecolorado.org to find resources by county in Colorado. The website also has other resources, including information on how to help a loved one who is being abused.
TESSA of Colorado Springs: Call the 24-Hour Safe Line at 719-633-3819, or visit tessacs.org.
YWCA of Pueblo: Call the 24-hour crisis hotline at 719-545-8195, or visit ywcapueblo.com