DENVER (Reuters) – A 32-year-old woman pleaded guilty on Friday to disposing of the cell phone of a missing Colorado mother who is presumed dead and agreed to testify against the man accused of her murder, prosecutors said.
Krystal Kenney, 32, who pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence in the case of a missing Colorado woman, is pictured in this photo released by the Colorado Springs Police Department in Teller County, Colorado, U.S., February 8, 2019. Colorado Springs Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
Krystal Kenney, who lives in Idaho, pleaded guilty in a Colorado court to one count of felony evidence tampering and said she would testify against Patrick Frazee, who prosecutors have accused of killing Kelsey Berreth, District Attorney Dan May said following the hearing.
Berreth, 29, was last seen publicly on Nov. 22 when a security camera captured her entering a grocery store with her 1-year-old daughter, Kaylee, in the small mountain town of Woodland Park, Colorado, about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Denver.
Police arrested Frazee, 32, whom authorities said was Berreth’s fiancée and Kaylee’s father, on Dec. 21, and charged him with first-degree murder and solicitation to commit murder, although Berreth’s body has not been found.
Prosecutors have not disclosed the nature of any relationship that existed between Kenney and Frazee.
Frazee is being held without bond, and a judge has awarded temporary custody of the couple’s daughter to her maternal grandparents.
In a news conference after Friday’s hearing, May read the statement Kenney made in court, in which she admitted to knowing that police were investigating Frazee in connection with Berreth’s disappearance.
“I moved the victim’s cell phone with the intent to impair the phone’s availability in the investigation,” Kenney’s statement said, according to May.
Three days after Berreth vanished, police said her cell phone pinged off a tower near Gooding, Idaho, and a text message was sent from the phone to Berreth’s employer, which said she would not be into work that week.
Kenney was charged by summons and is not in custody, but is required to check in regularly with authorities, May said.
May said that as part of her plea agreement, Kenney is barred from speaking to the media. She could receive anywhere from probation to three years in prison when she is sentenced at a later date, he said.
Frazee’s court-appointed attorneys have said they will not comment on his case outside of court. Frazee is due back in court on Feb. 19 for a preliminary hearing. He could face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder.
Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Andrew Hay and Leslie Adler