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Advocates: Frazee-Kenney relationship an example of domestic violence

Posted at 6:36 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 21:13:15-05

CRIPPLE CREEK — Rebecca Blair spends her days as a senior advocate at the Aspen Mine Center in Cripple Creek.

Yet, she knows the impact domestic violence can have on a family firsthand. Her sister, a former nurse, was in a manipulative relationship, moving from Colorado to Florida for love.

"It was like a whirlwind, because you never knew whether she was going to call you, whether she was going to show up on the doorstep, whether she was alive," Blair said. "He had control and power over her to the point that he convinced her to smuggle some heroin into the prison where he was. She was caught with it immediately."

Plainly, Blair said it ruined her sister's life. She lost her nursing license and was forced to find a different career.

Those memories were rekindled during the murder trial of Patrick Frazee, the Teller County man who last month was convicted in the murder of his former fiancé Kelsey Berreth. Blair and other advocates told News 5 they saw similarities between Krystal Kenney's testimony and the domestic violence victims they help at the Aspen Mine Center.

She actually attended Day 4 of the trial, when the defense cross-examined Kenney, Frazee's mistress. Blair said listening to Kenney detail her efforts to clean up the crime scene and describe her relationship with Frazee struck her as a similarity.

Kenney’s witness role explains plea deal leniency, lawyer says
Krystal Kenney in court on Friday, February 8.

"We were there when the defense was asking her over and over how many times she could've stopped it," Blair said, fighting back tears. "And I teared up, because she had so many chances to stop that."

Frazee persuaded Kenney three separate times to travel from Idaho to Colorado with plans to kill Berreth herself.

On Sept. 23, 2018, the plan was to deliver Berreth a poisoned coffee from Starbucks. Kenney got the coffee and gave it to Berreth under a fake name and story, but she told police she never poisoned the drink.

Then, on Oct. 15, 2018, Kenney testified Frazee instructed her to grab a steel rod from the gate to his ranch in Florissant to then beat Berreth with. Kenney grabbed the rod, drove to Berreth's Woodland Park townhome, got out of her car but was then spooked by a barking dog. She told police she got back into her car and drove to Frazee's ranch, leaving the rod at the gate.

Just six days later, Kenney drove down again with a baseball bat, again at Frazee's direction. She laid in the grass near Berreth's townhome, but again decided she couldn't do it.

Eventually, Frazee committed the crime himself, beating Berreth to death with a baseball bat in the living room of her home on Nov. 22, 2018. He then called Kenney to drive down and clean up the crime scene. She did, leaving behind spots of blood for police to find.

Her role, noting the plea deal she received from prosecutors, has become the target of extreme criticism online. Despite clearly being much more involved, prosecutors only charged Kenney with a single count of tampering with physical evidence, tied to moving and destroying Berreth's cell phone.

At most, Kenney could spend three years in prison if the crime is found to be aggravated. Otherwise, the maximum is reduced to 18 months, and the charge does not carry mandatory prison time.

She's due back in court Jan. 28 for her sentencing. Attorney Dru Nielsen has already indicated she's planning to provide the court recorded video of witnesses testifying on Kenney's behalf and challenge the legal grounds on whether Kenney's crime was aggravated, seeking the least possible sentence.

Angie Trelstad, client services director at the Aspen Mine Center and a former Tessa advocate, said the situation is actually a classic domestic violence scenario. That said, she said there's absolutely no excuse or justification for Kenney's actions in the crime.

"It's so easy for people on the outside to look and say, 'How could this happen? How could she do this,'" Trelstad said.

She said the violence component of domestic violence isn't always physical. It's often a mental battle and ongoing cycle for power, and whomever has control can then cause the other person to act out of the ordinary, Trelstad said.

"Violence and power and control and trauma will get you in a place where you don't even know who you are," Trelstad said.

Both Blair and Trelstad approached News 5, wanting to share more information and raise awareness on domestic violence to help prevent instances like this from escalating in the future.

Trelstad said families should look for certain factors to ensure their loved ones can see a pathway out of a domestically violent relationship. For example, if you see your loved one becoming isolated from the family or keeping things secretive from the family, that's a good time to seek professional help.

"Even if you have no one around you that you trust, there's always someone out there that you can trust," Trelstad said. "If you don't find them at first, keep looking."

For more information on the advocate work Blair and Trelstad do, click here to visit the Aspen Mine Center website.