ABC News reports that Krystal Lee Kenney of Idaho, the woman who admitted to helping her ex-boyfriend clean up the murder of Kelsey Berreth, has had her three-year sentence vacated, and will be resentenced later.
A Colorado Court of Appeals ruled to vacate Kenney’s sentence last Thursday.
Kenney confessed to tampering with crime scene evidence by removing the victim’s phone from the murder site. Kenny’s ex-boyfriend, Patrick Frazee, was found guilty of murdering Berreth in November of 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
During Frazee’s trial, Kenney testified against Frazee saying that he beat Berreth to death with a baseball bat on Thanksgiving Day 2018. Frazee and Berreth’s 1-year-old daughter was in another room during the bludgeoning of Berreth.
Kenney, a nurse, admitted to prosecutors that she came to Berreth’s home to clean up the aftermath of the murder.
Kenney entered a guilty plea to one count of tampering with physical evidence, and was sentenced to three years in prison in January of 2020, a maximum for such an offense due to aggravating factors. However, ABC News reports that the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled last Thursday that three years is twice the maximum presumptive term and remanded the case to district court for re-sentencing in the presumptive range.
ABC News added that the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that an initial court “did not ‘specifically inform’ Kenney in the plea hearing or at sentencing of her right to have ‘a jury determine aggravating facts beyond a reasonable doubt.’”
ABC News also reported the following: “The court advised her that she would be 'giving up some significant, substantial constitutional rights' by pleading guilty, including the right to have a jury determine all issues of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
According to court documents, "the court also told Kenney that she could receive a sentence of up to three years if the court found aggravating factors," the appeals court said. "But nothing in the record reflects 'at a minimum' that (1) the court advised Kenney of her Blakely rights and the consequences of waiving them, and (2) Kenney nevertheless chose to waive them."
Kenney's attorney reportedly filed an aggravated sentencing objection under Blakely v. Washington that "holds that a trial court may aggravate a defendant's sentence only under certain circumstances," the court of appeals said.
The appeals court found that "Kenney's admission was not Blakely-compliant, and the district court therefore erred by aggravating Kenney's sentence based on the admission."
"She's serving an unconstitutional sentence," Kenney's attorney, Dru Nielsen, told ABC News. "The judge did not have the ability to sentence her up to three years."
A re-sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Kelsey Berreth's body is still missing.
Berreth and her family are originally from Warden, Washington. The Berreths relocated to Idaho several years ago and Kelsey moved to Colorado after landing a job with Doss Aviation. Berreth studied and trained to become a pilot at Big Bend Community College. Berreth was 29 years old at the time of her murder.