Trial Begins for Ex-Fiancé Accused of Killing Colorado Mom Kelsey Berreth
Nearly a year after his ex-fiancée Kelsey Berreth disappeared, the Colorado man accused of murdering her will face trial.
Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of Patrick Frazee, who has denied accusations that he killed the mother of the couple’s young daughter by beating her with a baseball bat and then burning her remains.
The 29-year-old’s body has never been found.
In a change from the prison uniform he’s worn during previous appearances before a judge, Frazee, 33, wore a shirt and khaki pants in a Teller County courtroom as attorneys for the defense and prosecution began to question potential jurors, a process that is expected to take several days before opening statements are heard in the trial, reports TV station KDVR.
Frazee has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and three counts of solicitation to commit murder for the presumed death of Berreth.
The former flight instructor from Woodland Park was last seen publicly on Nov. 22, 2018, captured on surveillance video as she entered a grocery store with the couple’s then 1-year-old daughter.
On Dec. 2, Berreth’s mother, who lived in another state, reported her daughter missing after not being able to reach her. Frazee, who did not live with Berreth, later told police they met up that day so Berreth could hand off their daughter to him, and he had not seen her since.
Berreth’s cell phone pinged from towers in Idaho after she disappeared, and a text message sent from her phone to her employer had requested a week off from work.
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Investigators subsequently alleged that Frazee and another woman with whom he was having a relationship, Krystal Jean Lee Kenney, conspired to move the cell phone in the aftermath of Berreth’s murder. Kenny told police Frazee allegedly beat Berreth to death on the same day she vanished after convincing Berreth to don a blindfold for a candle smell test.
Kenney and Frazee both were present two days later as Frazee burned the victim’s remains along with the baseball bat somewhere on Frazee’s ranch in Florissant, Colorado, Kenney told authorities, according to prosecutors at a preliminary hearing.
Kenney pleaded guilty in February to tampering with evidence in the case, admitting that she helped dispose of Berreth’s phone for Frazee, and she agreed as part of her plea to testify against Frazee. She will not be sentenced until after the conclusion of the current trial, and faces up to two years in prison.
Prosecutors have alleged that Frazee planned the murder over a two-month period before killing Berreth but have not revealed a motive. Frazee’s alleged solicitations for murder occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, 2018, according to charging documents obtained by PEOPLE, but it was not clear who he solicited.
The status of Berreth and Frazee’s relationship at the time she disappeared also is muddy, with some relatives of Berreth saying she had ended their engagement weeks earlier while others claimed the two split the day of the alleged killing.
Frazee had custody of the couple’s daughter until his Dec. 21 arrest placed him in jail without bond, but the child has since been living with Berreth’s parents. He faces life imprisonment if found guilty.