With Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth still missing, her former fiancé has pleaded not guilty to her presumed murder.
The accused, 32-year-old Patrick Frazee, entered his plea Friday in a Teller County courtroom, according to multiple news outlets.
He is now scheduled to stand trial in October, reports KOAA, CBSDenver and the Associated Press.
Frazee faces charges including two counts of murder and three counts of solicitation to commit murder for the death of Berreth, a 29-year-old former flight instructor from Woodland Park last seen publicly on Thanksgiving Day as she entered a grocery store with the couple’s then 1-year-old daughter.
Frazee’s mistress, nurse Krystal Jean Lee Kenney, told police he allegedly beat Berreth to death that day with a baseball bat after convincing Berreth to don a blindfold for a candle smell test. He and Kenney then allegedly watched two days later as Frazee burned the victim’s remains along with the baseball bat somewhere on his property, Kenney told authorities, according to prosecutors at a preliminary hearing.
Kenney pleaded guilty in February to tampering with evidence in the case, admitting that she helped dispose of Berreth’s phone for Frazee, and agreed as part of her plea to testify against Frazee.
She will not be sentenced until after the conclusion of Frazee’s impending trial, and faces up to two years in prison.
Prosecutors have alleged that Frazee planned the murder over a two-month period before killing Berreth.
Frazee, who did not live with Berreth, told police that he and his fiancée met up on Nov. 22, when she was recorded on a store surveillance video, so that Berreth could hand off their daughter to him. It was her last recorded sighting.
Berreth’s mother, who lives out of state, reported her daughter missing 10 days later, on Dec. 2.
Police initially investigated whether Kenney had dumped Berreth’s phone in Idaho on Nov. 24 or 25, where the missing mom’s mobile device last pinged off cell towers shortly before authorities launched a search for her.
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According to prosecutors, Kenney “destroyed, mutilated, concealed, removed, or altered physical evidence” in the case “believing that an official proceeding was pending or about to be instituted.”
In court where she pleaded guilty, Kenney alleged, “I knew Patrick Frazee committed homicide,” and further acknowledged that she knew getting rid of the cell phone would hinder the police investigation, reported KRDO.
Frazee’s alleged solicitations for murder occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, 2018, according to charging documents, which were obtained by PEOPLE.
He was arrested on Dec. 21 without incident and remains in custody without bond.
The couple’s daughter had been living with Frazee immediately after Berreth disappeared but has since been with Berreth’s parents after his arrest, where she will remain, a judge ruled, according to CNN.
The status of Berreth and Frazee’s relationship at the time she disappeared is still muddy, with relatives saying she had ended their engagement weeks earlier while others claimed the two split the day of the alleged killing.
The charges against Frazee carry a possible sentence of life imprisonment, with 4th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Dan May telling the media after Friday’s brief plea hearing that his office is still considering its pursuit of the death penalty in the case.
“Its one of the weightiest decisions that a district attorney makes,” he said.
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