A Teller County man was charged with five felonies Monday in the apparent killing of his missing fiancee, who disappeared from Woodland Park on Thanksgiving Day.
Patrick Frazee, 32, who is jailed without bond in Kelsey Berreth’s disappearance and apparent slaying, went before a judge for a brief hearing.
After shuffling into Teller County District Court in a green-striped jail jumpsuit, he took his seat at the defense table and said nothing as his attorneys waived a formal reading of the charges.
Prosecutors didn’t provide updates about the potential for new arrests nor the grim search for remains, saying they are barred from discussing details.
Although her body hasn’t been found, authorities say they uncovered evidence that Berreth was slain in her townhome.
Frazee’s charges include two first-degree murder counts under different theories. One alleges that Frazee killed Berreth, 29, with intent and after deliberation. The other alleges that she died during a robbery. No further details are given in charging documents.
Frazee also faces three counts of solicitation to commit murder, but prosecutors declined to provide details on those either.
Prosecutors might believe Frazee tried repeatedly to have Berreth killed, either asking three people or the same person three times, speculated Phil Dubois, a longtime Colorado Springs attorney who isn’t involved in the case. The other possibility is that Frazee is accused of trying to have three people killed, Dubois said.
“It’s a little like an attempt except it involves some other person who would actually do the deed,” Dubois said.
The couple’s 1-year-old daughter is in the temporary custody of Berreth’s relatives.
Prosecutors asked a judge Monday for permission to conduct “consumptive testing” on an unspecified piece of evidence.
That means the item is so small that it will be destroyed by testing, Dubois said. A droplet of blood, a hair follicle or skin oil left on an object — potentially bearing DNA — are all possibilities.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Lin Billings Vela set a motions hearing for Friday to discuss the request.
The judge ordered prosecutors to provide Frazee’s attorneys with a copy of the arrest affidavit laying out grounds for his arrest. Prosecutors asked for a protective order barring the defense from even discussing the document with their client, prompting the defense to object, calling that unconstitutional. The judge said she will hear arguments Friday.
Dubois said such requests for secrecy are increasingly common in El Paso County, usually when prosecutors voice concerns over the well-being of witnesses or the integrity of an ongoing investigation.
“The issue is there’s still an ongoing investigation and multiple investigative leads and things being followed up on,” said prosecutor Jennifer Viehman.
Billings Vela denied a defense request for a gag order. Attorneys for Frazee argued that public interest in the case could taint a potential trial. The judge ruled that attorneys must abide by state ethical rules in their out-of-court statements.
At a news conference after the hearing, 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May said his office has yet to decide whether it will pursue the death penalty. Under state law, prosecutors must notify the court of their decision within nine weeks of Frazee’s arraignment, which hasn’t been scheduled.
Frazee is due back in court Friday and again Jan. 29 for a preliminary hearing.
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