PUEBLO, Colo. — Just like her son Donthe, Sara Lucas’ stature towered over the courtroom as she approached the witness stand Friday in a Pueblo County courtroom.
Lucas was called as a witness by the prosecution during trial for the murder and disappearance of Kelsie Schelling in 2013. The 21-year-old, who was pregnant at the time, was last heard from by her family and friends on February 4 of that year.
On February 5, Ms. Lucas said she recalled getting her children and grandchild ready for school then driving to pick up her mother, Vivian Lucas, to run errands. When she arrived at Vivian’s house, she noticed Kelsie’s car was parked out front.
Sara said it upset her because she thought it was disrespectful of Donthe to bring a girl over to his grandmother’s house who he wasn’t married to. Still, Sara testified she never saw Kelsie inside the house.
“I didn’t see her. Like I said, [Donthe] was in the living room and she was in the other room. I didn’t see her, no,” Sara Lucas told investigators in an interview on February 11, 2013.
Sara said it was common for Donthe to stay the night at Vivian’s home.
Sara said met Kelsie just once, in a somewhat-secretive encounter, at a park behind her home on Toronto Place. She said Donthe Lucas didn’t like the two of them talking.
“I had gotten a text from her the day before [Kelsie’s disappearance] and I put her in a private box because my son didn’t want her talking to me,” Sara said in that 2013 interview.
Despite that, Kelsie and Sara talked on the phone several times. Sara said that Kelsie even sent her a picture of her ultrasound. For reasons not made clear in court, Sara testified Friday that she could not open that picture for a few months later.
On the morning of February 4, Sara said she got emotional in the car with her mother.
“My mother asked me why I am crying and I finally told her, ‘Kelsie’s pregnant – and she’s in your house and Donthe is acting weird,'” Lucas said in the interview.
Some of Sara Lucas’ recollections are spotty from that time. She said that’s because the event occurred eight years ago, and she’s suffered a “head trauma” since then. When asked if Donthe was ever violent with Kelsie, she said, “quite the opposite.”
Vivan Lucas (Donthe Lucas’ grandmother) testimony
On Friday, 94-year-old Vivian Lucas took the stand. She was asked about her statements to law enforcement in 2013. Also dealing with memory problems, the recording from her 2013 interview was played in court on Friday.
In the short snippet admitted to the court, Vivian told the investigator that she had woken up to find Donthe Lucas rummaging through her garage at 4 a.m.
Before both Lucas women took the stand, text messages from Donthe Lucas’ phone, which were exchanged between February 9-12, were admitted and read aloud.
In the texts, Donthe Lucas is having several conversations.
The conversations were with his mother, with Jessica Reeves, four or five conversations with numbers that were not saved in his phone, and another with Laura Saxton, Kelsie’s mother.
Prosecutors say the numbers that were not saved in Lucas’ phone were prostitutes. They say the text conversations discuss appointments, rates, paying extra, and more.
In cross examination on Friday, Lucas’ defense team asked Detective Neal Robinson, the lead Pueblo Police detective on the case, if he followed up with any of the numbers to see if Lucas did actually meet up with any of them. Robinson replied that he never did.
Meanwhile, Donthe Lucas was also communicating with Schelling’s mother.
Saxton had testified previously in this trial that it seemed like Lucas was the only person (of all of Kelsie’s friends and family) that may be able to get a reply from Kelsie, so she wanted him to try again before she went to the police to report her missing.
Lucas does send several texts (as many as eight or nine) to Kelsie’s phone on February 9 and 10, but never gets a reply. Detectives testified that Kelsie’s phone went dark on February 7 – sending no text or call data since that day.
Despite that, Lucas told Saxton that he had gotten a reply from Kelsie. No record of it appears on either of the phone’s records. Lucas’ defense team says that’s because it could have occurred on an internet-based messaging app (What’sApp – for example) and that data doesn’t record on cell towers.
Kelsie’s friends and family testified previously that they were not able to talk on the phone with Kelsie after that day (February 5 and 6), despite calling her and getting text replies.
Many of them said it didn’t sound like they were talking to Kelsie on those days, and they didn’t hear anything from her phone (text, call, or social media messages) at all after February 7, 2013.
Prosecutors asked Detective Robinson if it was unusual and out of character for Kelsie to completely shut down communication to her friends and family, to which he answered “Yes.”
FOX21 will continue to follow this trial. Check back for updates.