CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Jurors on Monday began deliberating the case of a Colorado rancher charged with beating his fiancee to death with a baseball bat while their child was nearby.
Patrick Frazee is charged with murder in the death of 29-year-old Kelsey Berreth, whose disappearance nearly a year ago drew national attention.
In closing arguments, Frazee attorney Adam Steigerwald attacked the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness, Krystal Lee, a former Idaho nurse who had been romantically involved with Frazee off and on for over a decade.
She testified that Frazee, 33, asked her to come to Colorado to clean up the scene of the killing and that she watched him burn a plastic tote she believed contained Berreth’s body.
Steigerwald told jurors Lee invented a story to protect herself and did not claim that Frazee beat Berreth with a bat until after she finalized a plea deal with prosecutors.
Frazee’s defense has also highlighted the lack of a body, motive and murder weapon during the trial.
Prosecutor Beth Reed told jurors that evidence corroborates Lee’s testimony. She also suggested several possible motives Frazee may have had for killing Berreth, including not wanting to pay child support and wanting full custody of the couple’s young daughter.
Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against Frazee. If convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.