PUEBLO — Several friends of the 21-year-old Denver woman who disappeared eight years ago testified Thursday in the murder trial of Donthe Lucas, the man who is accused of her murder.
The women's emotional testimonies allege both emotional and physical abuse from Lucas toward Kelsie Schelling during their relationship. The friends say he changed her dramatically with one friend saying Schelling would "soak it up like a sponge to the point that she seemed like a beaten animal."
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.
Another good friend of Schelling testifies:
Bobbi Larmer started day three of the trial Thursday, describing Schelling as "bubbly, full of life, loud, fun to be around." The two of them met in beauty school in 2009, lost touch when Schelling moved back to Sterling and started talking again in the summer of 2011 though lost touch until the following summer when Schelling said she would move back to Colorado from California.
Once Schelling moved back, Larmer said they got close again and she would visit her in Denver every few weeks though most of the relationship was texting. Larmer described Lucas as being very quiet and standoff-ish when she was around, also saying he did not get to know any people that were around.
She also described Schelling as being "obsessed with him," but Lucas never reciprocated. Larmer said she had concerns about the relationship. Schelling would tell her Lucas would ask for money, and Larmer accompanied Schelling to Walmart to send money to Lucas.
Larmer says she accompanied #Schelling on a trip to send #Lucas money. Prosecution also dives into a series of texts from Feb. 4-9. The first text is a picture of Schelling’s ultrasound, but when Larmer asks how the appointment went, she didn’t hear back. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) February 5, 2021
When Larmer learned Schelling was pregnant, she said the relationship with Lucas changed though reiterated that Schelling was excited to have the baby. The day of Schelling's appointment, Feb. 4, Larmer was supposed to go with her, but she had to work. She said she texted Schelling asking how the appointment went and did not receive a response until Feb. 6 from Schelling saying she is sleeping and tired. At the time, Larmer thought she was "being a brat" but looking back, she said it was not in Schelling's nature to send a message like that and does not think the text was from Schelling.
The defense once again painted the picture that Lucas did not have all of the privileges Schelling did with her apartment, car, and family support.
Cell phone record analysis:
Scott Eicher, an expert on how cell phone towers work, spent more than 20 years with the FBI, where he was one of the original members of the Cellular Analysis Survey Team. This testimony is the 119th he has testified with majority in Colorado and part of it in the 10th Judicial District.
Eicher explained phone records of Schelling and Lucas' cell phones and that her phone ends up in Pueblo, stopping in the general area of Walmart around between 10:20 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2013. He said there were texts between her and Lucas and a phone call during the time frame. He also pointed out that a cell tower registered Lucas calling his mother just east of the area of Walmart.
The point Eicher makes regarding cell towers is Schelling's phone was not at Walmart or Lucas' mother's home when it received two phone calls from Lucas just before 4 a.m. Both phones were also excluded from a typical meetup spot for the couple at the intersection of Manor Ridge and Sienna because of the lack of GPS points.
Finally, #Lucas’ phone at 3:53 AM also picks up on a NEW cell phone tower not used yet. GPS points also can exclude his phone from being placed at the Walmart, mom’s house, or grandmother’s house. @KOAA— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) February 5, 2021
The cross-examination from the defense showed the holed they're trying to poke, that there's no evidence to suggest Donthe Lucas' phone ever left Pueblo.
The witness admitted he cannot say the data is absolutely perfect. He also said he "cannot conclusively say these phones were ever traveling together." The prosecution ended on the note that both phones never left Pueblo.
CBI Agent Kevin Torres then took the stand.
All the prosecution had him do was read a text conversation between Lucas and Schelling from Feb. 3.
This conversation is from the day before Schelling disappeared. In it, Lucas asked Schelling if she wanted to take a road trip. Schelling said she had to go to the doctor. After some back and forth, Schelling asks, "wow are you going to the doctor with me?" Clearly surprised at the notion. Lucas responded along the lines of "seems like you don't want me to go." Schelling responded, "I asked you to go a couple of times and you made excuses, so I got used to the idea I was going alone.”
Collet Bordelon noted that Agent Torres is the person who advanced the theory that Schelling was strangled by Lucas but there was no talk of that in the courtroom Friday.
The trial picks back up on Monday 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
Day 2 of Donthe Lucas murder trial: Several friends of Kelsie Schelling take the stand
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
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