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Colorado agent details texts between Keslie Schelling and Donthe Lucas

Zach Hillstrom
The Pueblo Chieftain

The homicide trial of Donthe Lucas, accused of first-degree murder in the 2013 disappearance of his pregnant girlfriend, Kelsie Schelling, resumed Monday with the testimony of Colorado Bureau of Investigation Agent Kevin Torres.

Torres, continuing his testimony from Friday, began the fourth day of the trial by detailing alleged text exchanges between Lucas and Schelling on the night of Feb. 3 and the day of her disappearance Feb. 4, breaking them down minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour as the conversation unfolded.

MORE: Lucas trial day 3: Kelsie Schelling's friends continue testimony, cellphone records discussed

The texts exchanged indicate Lucas and Schelling were constantly arguing throughout the night of Feb. 3, both in text and in short phone conversations in which Schelling seemed to continually hang up on Lucas.

Lucas appears to have asked Schelling to come down to Pueblo after she got off work the evening of Feb. 3, and expresses disappointment she will not drive down.

In the texts, Lucas implies Schelling had asked him to come to her OBGYN appointment the following day – the day of her disappearance – saying he wanted to go with her and noting it “seemed like” Schelling wanted him to go.

Schelling replied that she did want Lucas to accompany her to the doctor “until I realized that’s the last place you wanted to be.”

The argument between Schelling and Lucas, according to the exchanged texts as recounted by Torres, continued into the early morning hours of Feb. 4.

At 1:28 a.m., Schelling tells Lucas, “I won’t tell you anything about the baby. I won’t tell you about my appointment. We won’t speak of it again. Forget I’m pregnant, seriously.”

Just before 3 a.m., according to Torres’ testimony, Schelling texted Lucas, “You don’t have to be in a relationship with me. You don’t have to marry me. You don’t have to have a happy little family with me. You don’t have an obligation to me. You’re good. Don’t worry. Goodnight.”

Torres said Lucas replied, “Oh I know all of that …  thanks for stating it for me.”

Their argument continued through texts beyond 4 a.m.

MORE: Lucas trial day 1: Former inmate testifies Lucas admitted guilt to the murder

Later that morning, Torres read texts from Schelling to Lucas that said, “I’m sorry for hanging up on you over and over. That was dumb and I apologize. I just get mad and I don’t want to fight with you. I love you very much and you know it. I’m sorry for hanging up on you … I truly am. Love you Donthe.”

Lucas and Schelling continue to exchange texts throughout the day of Feb. 4, beginning before her OBGYN appointment.

Schelling tells Lucas at 11:21 a.m. that she’s finished her appointment. He reportedly asks what the doctors told her and she replies that everything looked good and that her due date was Sept. 13.

Lucas, according to Torres’ recap of the text exchange, replied, “Cool,” then said he wished Schelling didn’t have to work that evening. He asks her to skip work and come to Pueblo to get him and they continue to argue.

Schelling tells Lucas, “I’m not going to come get you so we can fight all day.”

He responds: “I don’t want to fight at all I want to give you this.”

“Give me what?” Schelling asks.

“Just wait and see for yourself,” Lucas allegedly says in the texts.

“You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway so you can see for yourself.”

Lucas and Schelling seem to allude to a trip Lucas was planning on taking that day, seemingly to Kansas, on which he asked Schelling to accompany him.

Lucas tells her to, “Just stop wasting time and come.”

Schelling tells him she has responsibilities and can’t just skip work.

Torres detailed a text from Lucas to Schelling just before noon that said, “Um, yeah you can if you weren’t scared to get fired. I told you I’d give you everything you need when you get here so u don’t need that job.”

Schelling goes to work that evening and she and Lucas continue to argue over text.

Before 6 p.m., Torres said Schelling texted Lucas, “Then step up and make a relationship with me work. Stop acting like you can’t do it. Either make things work with me or walk away.”

“OK. I plan to make things work. Are you still coming (down to Pueblo) after work? I’m not going today,” Lucas allegedly responded.

Torres said texts showed Schelling eventually agreed to come to Pueblo. Former FBI agent and cellular software expert Scott Eicher testified Friday that cell phone records showed Schelling’s movements that night -- her phone, Eicher said, left the area of her employment in Denver, traveled south on Interstate 25 and eventually arrived in Pueblo.

Schelling texted Lucas at 8:50 p.m., saying, “I’m coming now. So be ready.”

At 9:19 p.m., Schelling texts Lucas to say that she’s in Monument. At 9:56 p.m., she texts again, saying, “Almost there. Where do I go?”

Lucas, according to Torres, directs her to go to Walmart. She texts him at 10:20 p.m., saying she’s arrived and Lucas replies that he’ll be there shortly.

But at 11:10 p.m., Lucas had still not arrived at Walmart. At 11:14 p.m., he changes plans and tells Schelling to meet him, “where you usually do,” seemingly referring to an intersection near his grandmother’s home where Schelling had picked him up on previous occasions.

She texts him at 11:18 p.m., saying she has arrived at the meeting spot. She texts again at 11:24 p.m., saying “Where are you? I’ve been here for over an hour just waiting.”

Deputy District Attorney Kyle McCarthy then skipped ahead to the communications exchanged the following day and asked Torres to read from texts that allegedly were exchanged between Donthe Lucas and his mother, Sara Lucas.

At 11:29 a.m. on Feb. 5, Torres said Lucas texted his mother, “Going to make sure she didn’t leave anything in the house. Then you can take her back home.”

Sara Lucas allegedly responded: “What happened?” and, “Are you OK?” to which Lucas responded, “Yeah. Great now.”

Sara Lucas asked Donthe, “She’s not pregnant?”

He responded: “Nothing. Just had to make sure I was right. Apparently she had a miscarriage yesterday.”

“Oh my god,” Torres said Sara Lucas replied.

“All lies,” Donthe said.

“I’m 100 percent positive.”

“OK. Love you,” Sara Lucas said. “You ready for a smoke and a pancake?”

“Hell yeah. Lol,” Torres said Donthe replied. “Let me get her out of here. Love you, too.”

Around the same time, texts were also being exchanged from Lucas and Schelling’s phones.

“If it’s really what happened I’m so sorry you had to go through that alone,” Lucas said in a text to Schelling.

“Wish you would have told me you knew it was very likely to happen so I could be prepared. Didn’t expect to feel like this now.”

While this text was being sent, Torres said Schelling’s phone was pinging off of a cell tower within the area of Canon National Bank, where Donthe Lucas was seen on camera withdrawing $400 from Schelling’s bank account while driving her 2011 Chevy Cruze.

Torres said in the surveillance video showing the cash withdrawal, Schelling cannot be seen in the vehicle.

Shortly before noon, other texts are exchanged between Lucas and Schelling’s phones, which the prosecution alleges were not actually sent by Schelling.

MORE: Lucas trial day 2: Friends of Kelsie Schelling speak to a toxic and abusive relationship

Using cell phone data from Lucas and Schelling’s phones, the prosecution believes both phones were in the same location as the texts were being exchanged.

One text from Schelling’s phone to Lucas’ at 11:56 a.m., said “After u get that money pick me up and stay out of my life!”

Another, sent at 11:59 a.m., said, “You can bring my car to Denver tonight. I have to go to the doctor. I don’t feel right. You can use the money and fill the car up…”

Around that time, Torres said, is when Schelling’s car was parked at the South Side Walmart, as evidenced by surveillance video of the parking lot. The car was moved from that location the following morning, then showed up at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center Feb. 9.

At 1:10 p.m., Lucas texts Schelling, saying that he will drop off her vehicle and asks if he should, “leave the keys in the visor?”

At 1:34 p.m., Lucas sends another text saying, “sorry again about the loss,” telling Schelling he will soon be going up to Denver to drop off her car.

Torres said Lucas never took the car to Denver. Her phone, according to Torres and Eicher, was also never recorded as having left Pueblo.

Crisis Center executive director called to address domestic violence

After Torres, the prosecution called to the stand Jennifer Walker, the executive director of the Crisis Center — a nonprofit organization in Douglas County that address domestic violence.

Walker was called as a blind expert, meaning she was not familiar with the details of the Lucas case but spoke to general trends in domestic violence cases.

Walker said domestic violence, broadly speaking, addresses patterns of coercive control where one person in a relationship maintains power over the other.

Walker said there are several different ways domestic violence offenders controls their victims -- through financial abuse, leveraging family dynamics, such as the presence of children, threats and intimidation and withholding emotional support.

She said that domestic violence does not always escalate from mental and emotional abuse into physical abuse, but said changes in power dynamics – such as a new pregnancy – could lead to an escalation of abuse.

“If the offender is used to having the victim take care of them and be focused on them and dancing around to be sure the offender is doing OK, if now, suddenly, that’s not happening, that can lead to an escalation,” Walker said.

In cross-examination, Lucas’ attorneys sought to discredit Walker’s testimony by pointing out she has testified for prosecutorial bodies about trends in domestic violence more than 75 times in the past, and only testified on behalf of the defense in one prior case.

The defense also had Walker confirm that she could not tell the jury whether the trends she discussed were present in Lucas and Schelling’s relationship and could not say if any specific acts of domestic violence took place between them.

Officers who filed missing persons report and followed up take the stand

The court then heard from Denver Police Department officer Chad Sinnema, who gathered the initial information for the missing persons report filed by Schelling’s family Feb. 9.

Sinnema said he spoke to Lucas that evening and Lucas told him Schelling had come to see him in the early morning hours of Feb. 5.

Lucas said he’d informed Schelling during their visit that he did not want to be in a relationship with her. After their talk, he said, he believed Schelling left town.

Sinnema said Lucas told him that Schelling returned later that morning, again to discuss their relationship. Sinnema said Lucas told him that he and Schelling went to Parkview Medical Center later that day and that Schelling emerged from the hospital a short time later saying she was no longer pregnant.

Lucas said Schelling then dropped him off at his house and left. Sinnema testified that Lucas never mentioned: leaving Schelling’s vehicle at Walmart; meeting Schelling on a side-street of his grandmother’s home; Schelling staying in his home that night on Manor Ridge Drive; or using Schelling’s debit card.

Sinnema said Lucas also did not mention dropping Schelling’s vehicle off at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center on Feb. 7.

After Sinnema, the missing persons case was referred to Ted Binet, a DPD detective with the missing and exploited persons unit.

Binet testified Monday he contacted Donthe Lucas on Feb. 10th. A recording of their conversation was introduced as evidence.

In the recording, Lucas tells Binet the last time he heard from Schelling was the previous day, Feb. 9. He said that Schelling had called him early that morning from a private number and said he told Schelling she needed to get in touch with her family members because they were worried about her.

Binet asked Lucas if he had any idea where Schelling might be, to which Lucas replied: “Honestly, I’m not too sure. Lately she’s been like threatening to leave to California. She used to work out there and she lived there for a while. Her boss called her not that long ago and offered her her job back.”

Lucas told Binet he and Schelling had not been on “the best terms” in recent months, as they wanted different things. He said Schelling wanted a relationship but that’s not what he wanted.

He inferred that Schelling had lied about being pregnant numerous times in the past to try to, “make me stay with her and keep talking to her or whatever.”

As he told Sinnema, Lucas told Binet the last time he’d seen Schelling was Tuesday, Feb. 5. He said they’d spoken early that morning when Schelling arrived in Pueblo and their interactions continued through the following morning.

Lucas said Schelling told him before she came to Pueblo that she was pregnant and had gone to a doctor for an ultrasound. But Lucas claimed when they spoke later, Schelling “ended up telling me she’s not pregnant. She wanted to see what I was going to do – if I was going to leave her, try to help her, a whole bunch of crazy stuff.”

He said Schelling visited him around 2 a.m. Feb. 5, after she’d driven to Pueblo and met him near his grandmother’s house.  He said they got in an argument and he exited her vehicle, but Schelling stayed in Pueblo that night. Lucas said they met up again the following morning and that he brought Schelling to Parkview Medical Center, where she went inside the hospital and emerged a short time later, saying “I’m not pregnant. I never was.”

Lucas claimed he and Schelling then went to the South Side Walmart so Schelling could grab some snacks before driving back to Denver.

Asked by Binet if he had any idea where Schelling might be, Lucas replied, “She’s been saying she’s going to go back to California and get her job and get back with her ex-boyfriend.”

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if she was out in California already or was on her way there.

Binet asked Lucas if there was any chance Schelling might have left her phone with him.

“She definitely had that phone with her,” Lucas said. “I’ve never had that phone.”

Asked about the conversation he allegedly had with Schelling the prior day, Feb. 9, when she called him from a blocked number, Lucas said the conversation was very short and consisted of Schelling yelling at him and telling him not to leave her voicemails.

“She was like, ‘Stop calling me. Don’t text me. Don’t worry about me. Leave me alone,’” Lucas said.

The prosecution asked Binet if Lucas had told Sinnema in their Feb. 9 conversation about Schelling calling him from the private number that same day. Binet said, “Not that I remember.”

Binet also said Lucas did not at any point tell him he’d dropped Schelling’s vehicle off at St. Mary-Corwin, nor did he mention that he had used Schelling’s debit card to withdraw money from her account.

In cross examination, Tameler asked Binet if, in his time with the missing and exploited persons unit, he’d encountered people who intentionally disappeared to get away from their lives, and if such people tend to make sure they don’t leave indicators to where they might be going.

Binet said yes, but noted while an individual wanting to disappear might try not to leave a trail, they are most often “not very successful.”

Binet said there were several red flags in Schelling’s case that led him to believe she was more than just missing.

Asked if he believed Schelling orchestrated her own disappearance, Binet said, “No. I do not.”

Doctor testifies in regards to Schelling's OBGYN visit on Feb. 4

Next on the witness stand was Kathleen Tate, a medical doctor who handled Schelling’s original OBGYN visit on Feb. 4.

Tate said Schelling’s medical records did not indicate she was at any risk of a miscarriage. She also said Schelling’s medical paperwork indicated that she self-reported discontinuing her birth control in October 2012.

Tate testified that after her appointment concluded, Schelling scheduled her follow-up appointment for March 4, 2013, but never showed up.

Attorney Becky Briggs, part of Lucas’ defense team, grilled Tate about Schelling’s medical history and asked Tate about what was referred to by a medical assistant as a “worrisome” Pap smear at Schelling’s appointment.

The Pap smear was abnormal, Tate said, seemed to show that Schelling might be at risk for cervical cancer and could possibly have had human papillomavirus (HPV), warranting a follow up evaluation.

But Tate said they would never perform a biopsy on a pregnant woman and said even if Schelling did have HPV, it’s a common diagnosis – about 15 percent of women have HPV at any given time.

Tate said her evaluation of Schelling showed no indication of prior pregnancies, miscarriages of abortions.

She said based on her evaluation, Schelling was, in fact, pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

In an intake questionnaire at the doctor, Tate said there was a question asking whether the respondent has one sexual partner or many.

Schelling, Tate said, checked the box indicating just one.

Testimony in the trial is set to resume Tuesday, with Schelling's older brother, Colby Schelling, on the witness stand. 

Chieftain reporter Zach Hillstrom can be reached at zhillstrom@chieftain.com or on Twitter @ZachHillstrom