NewsFrazee Trial

Actions

Former ranch hands testify in Frazee murder trial

Posted: 8:29 PM, Nov 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-07 22:51:44-05
Patrick Frazee and Kelsey Berreth

CRIPPLE CREEK — District Attorney Dan May called Kyle Ritchie and Sam Dyer, who worked at the Frazee Ranch in November of last year, to testify Thursday in the Patrick Frazee murder trial.

As cameras, live tweeting and live blogging are not allowed during these proceedings, all of the information from the courtroom is drawn from extensive notes made by News 5's Sam Kraemer. Follow his updates online and on-air on News5 at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

May first handed several photographs to Ritchie, who said he recognized them at the Frazee Ranch.

Ritchie said he started working at the ranch sometime in the summer of 2018 and Dygert began working there in August, mainly working on fences and vehicles, splitting wood, cleaning up, and other repairs. He said around the week of Thanksgiving he and Dygert moved dirt to "cover some spots" around the ranch, and got the dirt from the driveway. Ritchie also said around Thanksgiving Frazee asked him to move a rusty metal trough from an area north of the house closer to the dog kennels. That's the same area where Krystal Kenney said Kelsey Berreth's body was burned. He also identified several other items and areas around the ranch.

Ritchie said he thought of Frazee as a boss, friend, and mentor, and while he never met Berreth he saw their daughter, Kaylee, multiple times. He said the errands Frazee asked him and Dygert to do around Thanksgiving, including moving the trailer and stacking several wooden pallets, were to "get things cleaned up" around the ranch.

Ritchie said after Thanksgiving he saw the pallets burned and saw Frazee near the fire. He said Frazee burned a few shed deer antlers, and the fire got about 13 feet high. He did not know if he smelled any accelerants. Ritchie also said there was a silver galvanized metal trash can a few feet away that he'd never seen before that day, with a lid on it. He said he never saw what was inside, and Frazee never told him, but he helped Frazee to load it into the back of his truck. He said it weighed 45-50 pounds, that he assumed it had ash inside, and he never saw it after that day.

He said he put the trough in the back of a nearby cattle trailer that day, and that they picked up a lot of trash around the property that day. He said they took that trash to the Divide waste station either that day or the following day,k but they did not take the silver trash can.

Ritchie said he cleaned up around the trough after moving it, and used a magnet bar to pick up 100-150 nails from the area. He also said in the few months he'd worked at the ranch he did not know of any other fires. He said in the morning the trough was warm to the touch, but was a normal temperature by afternoon.

Later that day Ritchie said he was instructed to get dirt and fill to crevices that water created.

On cross examination Ritchie said his recollection was a little fuzzy, but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary that Thanksgiving.

He also talked about his interview with Woodland Park Police on December 31. He said it lasted about 30-45 minutes, and the detective asked him about the week of Thanksgiving and the following weekend. Ritchie told attorney Ashley Porter that he knew it was important to tell detectives everything he knew.

The defense attorney said Ritchie failed to mention the galvanized trash can, or the shed antlers. Ritchie said he didn't see the antlers in the burn pit area.

Following up, District Attorney May asked Ritchie if he would make up anything to get Frazee into trouble, and Ritchie said no. May asked of Ritchie made up the trash can, and Ritchie said no and that it's real.

Sam Dygert followed Ritchie's testimony. He said he was on the Frazee property around Thanksgiving and confirmed helping Ritchie move the trough onto a horse trailer after the fire, but did not help with anything before the fire. He said Frazee told him about the fire the night before, and that it had to be put out because the flames were so high. He also said Frazee put some old antlers from the barn in the fire.

Dygert said he helped cover the fire with a layer of dirt taken from another part of the property. He recalled disposing of the trough at a scrapyard in Colorado Springs, and said the moved a lot of trash that day, including wood from a pig pen they tore down, tin roofing, and other scraps from around the property. He said those items were taken to different locations over the next two weeks, like Teller County Waste in Divide and a scrapyard in Colorado Springs.

A juror asked if there was more burnable trash around the property and Dygert said there was. When asked why more of it wasn't burned he said he didn't know.

Court recessed for the day around 4:30 and will resume at 8:30 Friday morning.

Background:

Patrick Frazee is accused of first-degree murder for the death of his fiancee, Kelsey Berreth, despite investigators never recovering her body since she was last seen alive on surveillance video inside the Woodland Park Safeway on Thanskgiving 2018.

Woodland Park Police have not found Berreth's remains. Berreth, 29, is presumed dead after prosecutors said Frazee, 33, her fiancé, beat her to death on Thanksgiving 2018. In December of last year, Patrick Frazee was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

He faces eight total charges — two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder, one count of tampering with a deceased human body and two counts of a crime of violence — for the presumed murder of Kelsey Berreth on Thanksgiving 2018. Click here to see the criminal complaint and arrest affidavit.

________________________________
Money problems:

The court heard from a handful of police officers, special agents and Frazee's brother, who described Thanksgiving Day at the family ranch Tuesday.

Sean Frazee, the defendant's brother, testified that he and his siblings are still in a legal battle for their late father's assets with an estimated value of $400,000.

Combine that with documents seized from the Frazee Ranch showing Patrick essentially defaulted on a $70,000 loan, and other papers showing a possible custody arrangement, a picture emerges of money problems. For more on his testimony and the other testimonies from Tuesday, click here .
________________________________
Along with Kenney's testimony Wednesday, the court heard from a FBI Special Agent who went over the phone records of Berreth's, Kenney's and Frazee's cell phones. Click here to read the testimonies, include Kenney's, from Wednesday.

Monday was filled with testimonies from Berreth's mother, brother, supervisor and among others.

Berreth's brother, Clint, explained how he found the blood on the underside of the toilet in her home. This turned the investigation from missing person to homicide. You can read more on his testimony and the rest of the testimonies from Monday here .

Based on opening statements, prosecutors plan to describe Frazee as a man who manipulated his fiancee, his girlfriend, his family, and those around him to get what he wanted. He's accused of asking his girlfriend, Krystal Kenney, to kill Berreth by using the argument that she was an unfit, abusive mother, and that their child would be safer with him.

On Frazee's behalf, the defense is arguing he is not the person who carried out this killing, citing how Kenney made a deal with authorities early in the case to avoid serious charges.

Click here to read opening statements made by prosecutors and the defense.

The entire case is expected to wrap up before Thanksgiving week.

RELATED:
Visit our Frazee Trial section of the site for complete coverage
Breaking down the case against Patrick Frazee for the murder of Kelsey Berreth
Kenney primed for key witness role in Frazee murder trial
Berreths seek justice; Frazee supporters optimistic ahead of trial
Patrick Frazee arrested for first-degree murder in Kelsey Berreth case
Warrants reveal cell phone evidence in Frazee case
Arrest affidavit released in case against Patrick Frazee
Drone video shows area where investigators searched Frazee property
All public documents in the Patrick Frazee case

Cameras and any live coverage of the trial are forbidden per judge's orders. News5's Sam Kraemer is covering the trial during breaks in proceedings. Be sure to follow him on social media for the latest.