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Kelsie Schelling's mother reacts to murder case heading to trial - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Kelsie Schelling's mother reacts to murder case heading to trial: "I'm so thankful"

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PUEBLO -

A judge has ruled Donthe Lucas will stand trial for the murder of Kelsey Schelling.

Thursday, the judge said prosecutors had proved probable cause and successfully argued to keep Lucas in jail without bail.

The closing arguments, and subsequent decision took less than an hour.

"I don't think it's even sunk in yet," said Schelling's mom, Laura Saxton, shortly after the hearing.

It's a day she felt--at times--wouldn't come for her daughter.

"I never thought we were going to get anywhere the way things were going."

Saxton says the turning point in the case came when it was turned over to someone new within the Pueblo Police Department, and when police agreed to start working with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. 

The family waited more than five years to listen to a judge set a murder trial for Donthe Lucas--the man they've always suspected killed Kelsie Schelling, who was pregnant at the time.

"The whole time--we had battle after battle after battle.  To have this validation does feel good," said Saxton.

"I feel like maybe I can take a breath for just a sec," she added.

But they face another new battle.

Lucas's defense team has continually pointed out no murder weapon or body was ever recovered in this case.

On Thursday, his attorney referred to the DA's arguments as nothing more than "theoretical evidence, based on secondhand hearsay."

On Thursday, prosecutors told the judge the Colorado Bureau of Investigation suspected Donthe had strangled Kelsie to death--which they say would explain a lack of murder evidence (such as blood or a weapon).

They referenced an instance, several months before Kelsie's disappearance, where several of Kelsie's friends alleged she was being abused by Donthe--after showing up to work with bruises on her neck.

The defense countered by saying witnesses claimed Kelsie's father was actually the one who had strangled her.

Prosecutors also told the judge the couple had been fighting for months, and that her pregnancy was "gasoline on a flame."

But they say they don't need to prove how Kelsie died--just that Lucas was responsible for her death.

The Saxton family says they're still desperate to uncover a key piece of evidence.

"It's not over, we still have to find Kelsie," said Kelsie's stepdad, Neal Saxton, during an interview after the hearing.

Laura Saxton shared this heartfelt message for her daughter, shortly after the hearing...

"Find a way to let me know where you are so I can bring you home," she said with tears in her eyes.

Saxton says she, and other devoted volunteers in Pueblo, will likely ramp up search efforts in the coming months.

"It's so hard for me because I live so far away.  But  I do want to get back into that while we have good weather and start trying to lay out some locations and get organized again," she told News5.

A deposition hearing is set for June 12th, where Lucas's grandmother is expected to be interviewed about the case.

His arraignment is set for August 28th.

For more information on evidence presented in last week's preliminary hearing, click here.

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