CRIPPLE CREEK • A Teller County man accused in the bludgeoning death of his fiancee last Thanksgiving pleaded not guilty Friday, setting the stage for a closely watched murder trial in the fall.
Teller County District Judge Scott Sells set an Oct. 28 trial date for Patrick Frazee of Florissant, who is accused of blindfolding Kelsey Berreth with a sweater in her Woodland Park townhome and beating her to death with a baseball bat while their toddler daughter was in a nearby room.
Wearing a bulletproof vest and a green-striped jail smock, Frazee, 33, remained silent during the 8-minute hearing. He sat quietly next to his public defender as the attorney announced plans to contest the charges, including first-degree murder.
If there are no delays, Frazee’s trial would begin 11 months after investigators say Frazee killed Berreth, 29, doused her body in gasoline and burned it in a tote on the Florissant property where he lived with his mother.
Berreth’s remains have not been found. A two-month search of the Midway Landfill in Fountain turned up nothing, Woodland Park police said in mid-April, and investigators only found residue of an accelerant at the Florissant ranch where investigators allege Frazee burned Berreth’s body.
On Friday, Sells also set a date to determine whether prosecutors can move forward with consumptive testing of a single, unnamed piece of evidence.
The hearing on June 14 will determine whether investigators can destroy the evidence while testing it — a step usually required when the item in question is too small to survive testing, or if too little of it exists.
The case has captured widespread attention since Berreth disappeared on Thanksgiving Day — sparking a search that ended about a month later with Berreth presumed dead and Frazee jailed on six felony charges, including first-degree murder, solicitation of murder and tampering with a body.
Prosecutors have relied heavily on a key witness, Krystal Kenney, an Idaho nurse who claimed she was having an affair with Frazee when he pressured her to drug Berreth’s coffee and beat her with a metal pole.
Kenney said she refused or backed out at the last second each time — only to receive a call from Frazee on Thanksgiving Day saying, “You got to get here now. You’ve got a mess to clean up,” according to testimony from an earlier hearing.
At that hearing, Kenney described a horrific scene upon entering Berreth’s townhome. She described bleaching the walls and floors and searching for a tooth that apparently had been knocked from Berreth’s mouth during the attack.
She also claimed Frazee told her to take Berreth’s phone to Idaho in an attempt to make it seem as if the missing woman were on a road trip. She turned on Berreth’s phone several times during the drive at Frazee’s request, investigators have said.
Kenney pleaded guilty in February to tampering with evidence, a felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison. On Friday, prosecutors said Kenney is expected to testify at Frazee’s trial — after which, she will be sentenced.
While Frazee has been held without bond in the Teller County jail, his mother has sought custody of the couple’s daughter. However, the court has given Berreth’s parents temporary custody of the child.
Friday’s arraignment was followed by a 2½-hour hearing on conservators, which is different than a custody hearing in that it’s usually held to appoint someone to represent a child or adult in ongoing legal matters.
Sells closed the courtroom to media and anyone not associated with the case, and details of that hearing — including the outcome — were not available Friday.