PUEBLO — The Pueblo murder trial of Donthe Lucas, who is accused of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend 21-year-old Kelsie Schelling in 2013, continued Wednesday following testimony from various experts on evidence found in her vehicle.
There are no cameras allowed in the building and no live reporting from the courthouse. There are also limits on the number of people who can be in the courtroom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Colette Bordelon will be there every day and will have coverage both online and over the air. Follow her on Twitter for the quickest updates.
Upcoming witness shot to death in Denver
It was discovered during the trial Wednesday morning that an upcoming witness in the trial was found shot to death last week in Denver.
Roxann Martinez, 31, was found dead on Feb. 25 from a gunshot wound and her death has been classified a homicide. The Denver Police Department has said that they don't believe her death was connected to the trial.
New5's Colette Bordelon reports that the District Attorney has confirmed that Martinez was going to testify for the prosecution this week that Lucas confessed to her that he killed Schelling. Colette Bordelon also spoke to Martinez's cousin, who said he believes her murder does have to do with the trial. It is still an open case.
We also spoke to Martinez's cousin exclusively. He believes her murder does have to do with the #DontheLucas trial, even though Denver police have said they believe there's no connection. It's still an open case. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) March 4, 2021
Romantic interest of Lucas' retakes stand:
Lauren Suhr, who now lives in Washington but lived in Colorado Springs in April 2016, took the stand virtually again Wednesday morning.
She said Tuesday in 2016 she was trying to gather information from Lucas about Schelling. She said she first reached out to him on Facebook and they exchanged numbers. After a few weeks, they met in person.
Suhr said during her testimony that Lucas characterized Schelling as a "best friend" because she basically paid for everything. He told her that he and Schelling would do drugs together, like cocaine. He also told Suhr that a man he did not know picked Schelling up the last time he saw her.
Lucas also admitted to Suhr that he was the person seen in the Walmart surveillance footage and that he moved the car to St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center. Prosecutors said he also admitted to that in 2017. Suhr also testified that Lucas would break down and cry whenever he talked about Schelling he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
When Suhr was back on the witness stand Wednesday, she said Lucas proposed to her, who took the ring, but said she would have to think about it. After that, she moved to Washington in spring 2017 and never spoke to Lucas again. She did say that he called once from jail, but they ultimately never spoke again.
Suhr said she always knew what she was doing, trying to gather information about Schelling, and never fell in love with Lucas. She said the plan, orchestrated by one of her close friends, was to get close to Lucas. Her friend was also in communication with Schelling's mom, Laura Saxton.
The defense points out that Suhr was lying to Lucas the whole time, and tried to have her admit she was having sex with him in exchange for information. According to News5's Colette Bordelon, Suhr would not categorize herself as a "sex informant," which she was called by the defense.
CBI forensic scientist takes the stand:
Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Forensic Scientist Collin Knaub takes the stand next and has worked for CBI since 2010. He testified to various tests he ran on around 45 items of evidence.
Trace #DNA of #Lucas was found inside a pair of gloves and two sweatshirts. No blood was detected in #Schelling's car. No blood was found on two knives collected. The white stain in #Schelling's car was negative for saliva. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) March 3, 2021
Kelsie Schelling's mother is called to the stand again
Laura Saxton, Schelling's mom, took the stand again and testified that Schelling's car was never in California. Saxton said the car was given to Schelling when she moved back from California and that there were certain belongings that were kept in the vehicle.
At this point, News5's Colette Bordelon said the prosecution admitted a picture taken of the dash of the car through Saxton.
Saxton got choked up when identifying her daughter's birth certificate, passport, and an expired passport from when #Schelling was "just a little girl." It was the most emotional moment in the courtroom today by far, watching a mother look at these remnants of her daughter. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) March 3, 2021
Saxton said she remembered asking investigators if these items were in the vehicle when it was recovered and she was told they were not.
Leading up to the trial:
21-year-old Kelsie Schelling was two months pregnant when she drove from Denver to Pueblo to see her former boyfriend Donthe Lucas. Feb. 4, 2013, was the last time Schelling was seen. Her body has never been found.
The community organized search efforts to try and find Schelling with her family filing a lawsuit in 2015 against the Pueblo Police Department and the Lucas family. The suit criticized the way the investigation was handled but was ultimately dismissed.
In December 2017, almost four years after Schelling's disappearance, Lucas was charged with her murder. By May 2018, a judge said prosecutors had proved probable cause. The lead investigator on the case from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation believes Schelling was strangled by Lucas after he lured her down to Pueblo. The theory would explain the lack of a murder weapon.
Lucas pleaded not guilty to the murder charges in August 2018, and the judge set a trial date for 2019. However, in January of 2019, both the prosecution and defense said they would not be ready to go to trial by early April 2019, because of an additional 125 witnesses who could possibly be called to testify.
The trial was then scheduled for July 2019, but Lucas' lawyers said they had new scientific evidence and needed more time to review it. In December 2019, the judge postponed the trial until May 2020, as a new lawyer joined the defense team. Then, in December 2020, the murder trial was set to start on Jan. 25, 2021.
Opening statements in murder trial begin in case of Kelsie Schelling's disappearance
Donthe Lucas murder trial will begin Wednesday
Long-awaited murder trial to begin in the case of Kelsie Schelling's disappearance
Previous coverage: The Kelsie Schelling Case