PUEBLO — The Pueblo murder trial in the disappearance of 21-year-old Kelsie Schelling continues Thursday with more text messages presented in court between Donthe Lucas, the man accused of her murder, and another woman as well as an on-camera police interview.
The court returned Wednesday to resume the murder trial after being delayed for two weeks due to a positive COVID-19 case.
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.
Woman who knew Donthe Lucas throughout high school and college testifies
The first witness to take the stand Thursday is Jessica Reeves, who says she knew Donthe Lucas throughout middle school, high school, and into college. Reeves said they stayed friends throughout high school and stayed in contact while she was in college in 2013. She said they spoke a little bit back and forth to try and hang out around January 2013, also saying they spoke around her birthday in January.
In court, text messages were presented and read between the two from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12 in 2013, specifically a text from Lucas to Reeves very early on Feb. 10 stating "I want to taste you." At the time, she believed Lucas was still in college and said they would usually talk on college breaks.
Earlier in the messages, Reeves had texted Lucas she would need things like dates before anything sexual. She said during these text exchanges Lucas never mentioned Schelling or her being missing. Reeves said during the time of these texts, she did not know who Schelling was, but she did get a call from a number she didn't recognize early in the morning on Feb. 5 that was later determined to have come from Schelling's phone.
Retired Pueblo detective takes the stand next
Retired Detective Neal Robinson from the Pueblo Police Department took the stand next. He was the lead detective on Schelling's case when it was handed over from the Denver Police Department to Pueblo, after her car was located at St. Mary-Corwin on Feb. 14, 2013.
Robinson conducted an on-camera interview with Lucas on Feb. 12, 2013. It's the fourth timeline Lucas has given law enforcement, that we've heard so far in court. News5's Colette Bordelon was in the courtroom to watch the on-camera interview and reports that Lucas tells Robinson Schelling came to Pueblo very early in the morning on Feb. 5, and that morning, said the two of them went to Parkview Hospital to confirm Schelling's pregnancy. Lucas said he waited in the car when Schelling went inside.
In past testimonies during the trial, it was stated Lucas told a different Pueblo Police officer he went inside Parkview with Schelling, and stayed in the waiting room though Parkview has no records of a visit. The rest of Lucas' account in this interview of what happened on the morning of Feb. 5 is consistent with other timelines stated so far that the two went to Parkview, then Walmart, argued in Schelling's car in the parking lot, she kicked Lucas out of the car, and his mom picked him up.
Lucas told Robinson that Schelling was not his girlfriend but would not define their relationship as a "hook up." Lucas said Schelling fell for him hard and fast, confessing her love for him on the second time they hung out in college. When asked about where Schelling could be in Pueblo, Lucas said "as far as I know, I'm the only person she knows in Pueblo." Lucas said he knows she has some friends in Denver.
Robinson then asked, "What do you think happened to her?" to which Lucas responded he didn't think there was anything wrong, until Schelling's mom called him. "So now, I'm kind of like, not really sure." Robinson then asked if the couple's arguments would ever get physical to which Lucas responded no, but went on to say Schelling had pushed him in the past but he never put his hands on her.
The prosecution then pointed out that Lucas didn't explain the need to verify Schelling's pregnancy at Parkview, when she had just gotten an ultrasound the day before on Feb. 4, 2013.
There was also a cell phone tower hit on Lucas' phone in the direction of the Southside Landfill. Robinson went to check it out on Feb. 6 and said one of the locks had been damaged.
News 5 has exclusive access to the witness list. Colette Bordelon reports there is a landfill expert on that list.
The trial resumes again Friday morning.
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