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Donthe Lucas murder trial resumes following two-week break due to positive COVID-19 test

Jury selection starts in Donthe Lucas trial
Posted at 7:49 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 00:20:07-05

PUEBLO — Wednesday was the first day back in the Donthe Lucas murder trial after a two-week break caused by a positive COVID-19 test.

You can find a recap of what happened before the break here.

Cell phones and who was texting who has been a large chunk of the evidence presented thus far in the case. Wednesday followed that trend.

CBI agent retakes the stand

First up on the stand Wednesday was CBI agent, Kevin Torres, the lead investigator on Kelsie Schelling's case.

Torres has testified once before in the trial. Wednesday, he was following up on Jessica Martin's testimony. Martin was the last witness called before the two-week break.

Martin is the woman who initially said she wanted to help find Schelling, but ended up falling in love with Donthe Lucas. Agent Torres said he had contact with Martin twice in 2016, once in the summer and once in November.

He said the first contact was regarding a psychic tip Martin said she had regarding bones at a truck stop. Torres followed up and it turned out they were animal bones. When Martin reached out to Torres in November she said she had started communicating with Lucas on Facebook to try to get information on Schelling.

Torres said he had not asked Martin to gather info for the CBI and she was not being used as an informant. He said he then told her to stop contacting Lucas. Torres talked to Martin again in January of 2017 and found out she had not stopped talking to him. That's when she told him the story about "Dominic."

According to Torres, Martin claimed that in late December 2016, she was at Lucas' house when a man named Dominic came in and called Lucas a murderer. Martin said Lucas responded with "you're four years too late."

Colette Bordelon reports the defense then insinuated that Agent Torres had tried to instill fear in Martin, regarding Lucas.

In regards to the "your four years too late" comment, the defense made the point that Lucas could have been talking about a $50,000 reward for finding Schelling. Torres said Martin did not specifically reference what Lucas meant.

In 2017, after admitting she had been intimate with Lucas, Martin moved to Arizona. According to Agent Torres, later that year in November, Lucas bought a one-way ticket to Arizona. He was charged with Schelling's murder in December of 2017.

Torres said he last spoke with Martin on January 31, 2017, the day he believes she flew to Arizona. The CBI then stopped the Schelling investigation for around a month. Torres said they thought Martin could have interfered with the investigation. He added that the timing of the one-way ticket Lucas purchased to Arizona in November of 2017 coincided with a wiretap investigation the CBI initiated on the Lucas family and friends.

Schelling's former employer takes the stand

Next up on the stand was Debra Tiberi, Schelling's former employer from a tanning spa in California.

Tiberi said Schelling worked at the spa from March to September of 2012. She described Schelling as a dependable employee who was detail-oriented and hard working.

Tiberi said she stayed in touch with Schelling after she moved back to Colorado and told her about a full-time position that had opened up at the spa. This was about a week before she disappeared.

That's when Schelling told Tiberi she was expecting a baby and had to turn down the job offer. That was the last time Tiberi heard from Schelling.

Lucas' former basketball coach takes the stand

Eddie Trenkle, Lucas' former basketball coach at Northeastern Junior College, took the stand next. He coached Lucas from 2010 - 2012. Lucas was put on academic probation in 2012 and was no longer eligible to play.

Trenkle said he tried to help Lucas transfer to Emporia State in Kansas to continue playing basketball. He said during that process he reached out to Shaun Vandiver, the head coach at Emporia at the time.

Vandiver took the stand next.

Vandiver said Lucas never took advantage of this opportunity. He said he reached out to Lucas several times but never heard back.

The last testimony of the day came from an official from Floor & Decor, where Schelling worked in Highlands Ranch then took the stand. This individual testified that Schelling's last day to work was Feb. 4, 2013.

The trial will resume again at 9:30 Thursday morning.

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.

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.

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Previous coverage: The Kelsie Schelling Case
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