(BACA COUNTY, Colo.) — A woman has entered a guilty plea in Baca County for the shooting death of her girlfriend following a domestic violence dispute in December of 2021.
According to the Baca County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO), deputies and officers with the Springfield Police Department initially responded in the early morning hours of Dec. 6, 2021 to Southeast Colorado Hospital on a report of a patient, 41-year-old Celsa Charette, arriving with a gunshot wound to the head.
Investigators learned that the incident leading up to Charette’s injuries may have taken place south of the Town of Vilas in an unincorporated area of Baca County. BCSO and local law enforcement immediately began processing the scene and investigating the incident.
On Dec. 8, 2021, BCSO was notified that Charette had died of her injuries.
The investigation identified Charette’s girlfriend, 38-year-old Brandi Kay Utley, as the primary suspect. BCSO said she was interviewed multiple times but denied any involvement.
BCSO said throughout the investigation, 25 search warrants were executed over a span of multiple states and cities, and numerous pieces of evidence were transferred to different law enforcement agencies and forensic laboratories, with hundreds of investigative hours being dedicated to the case.
In April of 2022, Utley was arrested for First Degree Murder.
On Aug. 28, 2023, Utley took a plea deal for Second Degree Murder as a Crime of Violence and an Act of Domestic Violence. She was sentenced to 25 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.