CRIPPLE CREEK — A Colorado judge has denied a request from Patrick Frazee, the Florissant man accused in the murder of Kelsey Berreth, to suppress evidence ahead of his murder trial.
At his Aug. 23 motions hearing, Frazee filed a motion to toss out evidence derived from a discussion he had with a Teller County Department of Human Services employee following his arrest. His attorneys argued the employee essentially did law enforcement's work without advising Frazee of his Miranda rights, calling the meeting involuntary. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said she was doing her job as outlined by state law.
In his order, Judge Scott Sells agreed with the state.
"When I consider the totality of the circumstances, I find no threats, limits of movement, harsh words, confrontation of evidence or guilt... that would indicate any type of Miranda warning was required or to find any constitutional violation," Sells wrote.
The meeting and interrogation happened inside the Teller County Jail on Dec. 26, five days following his arrest.
Mary Longmire, the employee, came to the jail to learn more about the family situation for the daughter Frazee shares with Berreth. As is lined out in the Colorado Children's Code, Longmire was tasked with finding the best custody placement for the daughter with Berreth missing for more than a month and Frazee in jail.
Longmire testified at the hearing that she used a standard list of 14 questions to have a discussion with Frazee to learn more about the child's upbringing, how Berreth and Frazee were as parents and more, to ultimately complete an assessment recommending a custody placement.
Adam Stiegerwald, Frazee's attorney, asked why Longmire questioned Frazee specifically on the events around Thanksgiving during the motions hearing. He pointed out some questions focused on a history of substance abuse and domestic abuse, which in his opinion, steered the conversation away from the custody situation and into criminal matters.
Lead Prosecutor Jennifer Viehman said Longmire was actually within her duties to complete her assessment. Viehman asserted Longmire at no time threatened Frazee and told him she'd understand if he didn't want to answer questions. She also clarified Frazee was seated viewing a window toward deputies, meaning he could have motioned to end the meeting at any time.
Inmates can reject visits at the Teller County Jail, too. Frazee did not reject this meeting, and he agreed to sign a release of information related to the custody arrangement.
Frazee is due back in court on Oct. 18 for a pre-trial readiness hearing. His trial, including jury selection, is set to begin Oct. 28.