DENVER (Reuters) – A Colorado man was convicted on Monday of bludgeoning to death his fiancée with a baseball bat last Thanksgiving and burning the young mother’s body, which has never been found, authorities said.
Patrick Frazee, 32, appears in a booking photo provided by the Woodland Park Police Department in Woodland Park, Colorado, U.S., December 21, 2018. Woodland Park Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
A jury in Teller County, Colorado, found Patrick Frazee guilty of first-degree murder for the killing of Kelsey Berreth, Rob McCallum, a spokesman for the state judicial branch, said in a statement.
District Attorney Dan May, at a news conference following the verdict, called the killing “a brutal, gruesome, senseless murder.”
May said the judge sentenced Frazee to the mandatory life term without parole plus an additional 156 years for his conviction on other charges.
“Kelsey was a kind, wonderful person,” May said. “She did not deserve this.”
Prosecutors chose not seek the death penalty for Frazee, who was also found guilty of solicitation to commit murder and tampering with a deceased human body.
The Colorado public defender’s office, which represented Frazee, declined to comment.
Berreth, 29, was last seen Nov. 22, 2018 when a security camera captured her entering a grocery store in the mountain town of Woodland Park, about 90 miles southwest of Denver, where she lived with her and Frazee’s then 1-year-old daughter, Kaylee.
Frazee was arrested and charged based on statements by an Idaho nurse, Krystal Kenney, who also had a relationship with Frazee. Kenney, also known as Krystal Lee, told investigators Frazee tried to get her to kill Berreth, but she refused, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Kenney, who testified at trial, said Frazee told her he blindfolded Berreth and beat her in the head with a baseball bat and later burned her body, the affidavit said.
Searches of the ranch where Frazee lived and of a nearby landfill failed to turn up the victim’s remains, police said.
Kenney, who said she cleaned up Berreth’s townhouse at Frazee’s direction, pleaded guilty in February to evidence tampering and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain. A sentencing date for her has not been set.
On the last day of trial, a former inmate at the Teller County jail testified that Frazee tried to get him to have his gang associates kill Kenney, the lead investigator in the case and several other witnesses, local media reported.
A judge has awarded temporary custody of Kaylee to her maternal grandparents, who have filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Frazee, claiming he killed their daughter to get sole custody of the girl.
Reporting by Keith Coffman; editing by Bill Tarrant and Tom Brown
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