missing colorado woman
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Teller County Sheriff deputies lead Patrick Frazee, 32, out of the Teller County Courthouse Friday, April 5, 2019, in Cripple Creek, Colo., after a judge agreed Friday to postpone the arraignment hearing in the apparent murder of Kelsey Berreth, the mother of his toddler daughter. Frazee is accused of killing his fiancee with a baseball bat and burning her body on his Teller County ranch. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

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No cameras will be permitted in court Friday when a Florissant man is arraigned on first-degree murder charges in the disappearance and presumed killing of missing Woodland Park mother Kelsey Berreth.

Teller County District Judge Scott Sells said he made the ruling Wednesday because of “extraordinary media attention” on Patrick Frazee, saying he didn’t want to compromise Frazee’s right to a fair trial.

A trial date will be set if Frazee, 33, pleads not guilty in the case. He is scheduled to be arraigned before Sells at 8:30 a.m. in Cripple Creek.

Cameras were permitted at some previous hearings, but Sells said in his ruling that the crush of attention, which has come from across the world, had raised more concerns than “traditional media coverage.”

A spokeswoman for the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said she is barred from addressing the issue of plea negotiations, and the defense has cited a gag order in declining to field questions, making it unclear how Frazee intends to proceed.

The rancher, who shares a toddler daughter with Berreth, 29, professed his innocence in the woman’s Thanksgiving Day disappearance before he was charged with her murder in December.

Authorities allege that Frazee killed her in her townhouse that holiday afternoon, blindfolding her with a sweater and then beating her to death with a baseball bat as their daughter was in a different room.

Their account of the murder and ensuing cover-up is based largely on the word of Krystal Kenney, an Idaho nurse who claims she was having an affair with Frazee. Kenney said Frazee confessed to her and directed her to drive to Colorado and clean up the crime scene, then coerced her to return to Idaho with Berreth’s phone to make it seem as if the missing woman were on a road trip.

Kenney has pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence, a felony that normally results in up to 18 months in prison. She is due to be sentenced at the conclusion of the case against Frazee.

Authorities believe that Frazee burned Berreth’s remains at his Florissant ranch and threw away the ashes. A weekslong search of the Midway landfill in Fountain this year failed to recover evidence, authorities say.

Frazee, who is being held in the Teller County jail, is pursuing custody of his daughter, who is in the temporary custody of Berreth’s parents.

Reporter

I cover legal affairs for The Gazette, with an emphasis on the criminal courts. Tips to lance.benzel@gazette.com

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