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Krystal Kenney, the Idaho nurse who admitted to cleaning up the bloody murder scene of Colorado mom Kelsey Berreth in 2018, was released from prison Tuesday after a judge re-sentenced her for her role in the crime.
“Based on the new sentence, Ms. Kenney was now past her mandatory release date and she was released from the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility on parole on Tuesday,” Annie Skinner, the public information officer for the Colorado Department of Corrections told Oxygen.com.
Kenney, 34, had originally been sentenced to three years behind bars for tampering with evidence in the death of Berreth, a 29-year-old flight instructor who disappeared from her Colorado home on Thanksgiving Day in 2018. Berreth's fiancé Patrick Frazee, with whom she shared a 1-year-old daughter, was found guilty of her murder in November 2019. Frazee and Kenney were involved in a romantic relationship and he enlisted her help in covering up Berreth's slaying.
However, an appeals court ruled last month that Kenney's three-year sentence was unconstitutional because it exceeded the maximum sentencing guidelines for the charge she had pleaded guilty to under the deal, according to local station KTVB.
The sentence had originally been doubled because of aggravating factors in the case, but Kenney’s attorneys had argued that her plea never mentioned those factor in the agreement she signed, KOAA reports.
The appeals court ordered her to be re-sentenced “in the presumptive range” of one year to 18 months. Judge Scott Sells handed down an 18-month sentence Tuesday.
He noted, however, that he believed the sentence was too short, calling her actions to help Frazee cover up Berreth’s murder “cold, calculating, cruel, and devoid of any compassion for human life.”
“I have no illusion that a sentence I re-impose will provide any healing for the Berreth family or for the Teller County community,” Sells said, according to KTVB.
Frazee killed Berreth on Thanksgiving Day 2018 after convincing her to put on a blindfold in her Colorado townhome to supposedly play a game where she would guess the scent of various candles, according to an affidavit in the case. However, instead of a playful guessing game, investigators said Frazee beat her to death with a baseball bat, while the couple’s young daughter sat in a playpen in a nearby room.
After carrying out the grisly murder, Frazee texted Kenney that she had “a mess to clean up,” authorities said.
Kenney left her Idaho home and drove down to Colorado to clean up the bloody crime scene.
Kenney later told investigators she wore a hairnet, booties, gloves and a white suit to clean up the townhouse, wiping blood from the kitchen, walls, ceilings, television, pictures and books, authorities stated in the affidavit.
She watched Frazee burn Berreth’s body before heading back to Idaho with Berreth’s cell phone. She used the phone to text Frazee, Berreth’s mother and Berreth’s employer in an attempt to mislead authorities, before disposing of the phone in Idaho.
She had also allegedly tried to carry out several failed attempts to take Berreth’s life herself—at Frazee’s direction—including poisoning a Starbuck’s coffee cup that she was supposed to give Berreth in the months before the killing, however, she never followed through with the plans, according to the affidavit.
Kenney later agreed to plead guilty to tampering with evidence in the case in exchange for her testimony against Frazee, who is currently serving a life sentence plus 156 years after being convicted of the murder in 2019.
District Attorney Dan May later referred to the plea agreement as making “a deal with the devil,” but said it had been necessary to secure Frazee’s conviction
Kenney declined to address the court at her re-sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
“Ms. Kenney is not going to speak today. She gave a heartfelt apology at her original sentencing hearing,” her attorney Dru Nielsen said, according to the local station KTVB. “She knows it wasn’t and will never be enough, but she had the courage and morality and the humanity to offer it.”
Nielsen also argued that Kenney “had the courage and the principle to tell the truth” even though it put her life and her family’s life at risk.
The judge, however, said that Kenney had multiple opportunities to warn Berreth or call police before the murder.
‘You could have prevented the murder, and done the right thing, that a person with honor or a sense of right or wrong would do. But you did nothing,” Sells said.
Despite his own feelings on the case, Sells said he was forced to abide by the appeal’s court ruling and hand down the lesser sentence.
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