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Hearing will help determine if Kelsie Schelling murder case can go to trial

Preliminary hearing will lay out evidence
Posted at 6:44 AM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 19:49:55-04

PUEBLO, Colo. — More than five years after Kelsie Schelling disappeared, her case is reaching an important milestone as prosecutors work to show there's enough evidence to go to trial. A preliminary hearing will take place Thursday in a Pueblo courtroom.

Schelling's body has never been found but her boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, was charged with first degree murder in December 2017. Evidence collected against Lucas is expected to be presented in court for the first time.

Prosecutors have the challenging task of building a case against Lucas without finding her body. His arrest affidavit has been sealed since charges were announced, but now some of those details could be presented.

In court on Thursday, three officers who first contacted Lucas were in court to describe parts of the investigation. Prosecutors also discussed phone records that are expected to be a large part of the state's case.

A few other details about the investigation were unveiled in the hearing, including information about when Schelling and Lucas talked the day of her disappearance, and that Lucas's grandmother saw him in her garage at 4 a.m. on the day Schelling disappeared.

Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, was also in court for the hearing Thursday.

"It is overwhelming just to sit and hear it all presented -- all at once, to hear it coming from the detectives," she told Denver7 in a brief interview during a lunch break in court.

She said she'd been watching Lucas during the appearance, and that he hadn't shown much emotion.

"The times that I have looked over at him for reaction or anything it's just what we have known him to be, and that is that he can just put on that very blank face," Saxton added.

"All of his varying stories and everything is now all part of the court record, so that's a very good thing," she added. "We've known all along that his story was consistently changing and everything, so it's just a good thing to have that all come out in one place and be documented before the judge."

Saxton added that she hopes that the court case getting underway will lead investigators to her daughter.

"The most important thing to us is to be able to bring Kelsie home," she said. "We want justice for her, obviously, and there needs to be justice served."

The case against Lucas has been ramping up over the past year. In April 2017, police searched the backyard of a home where he used to live. It is still unknown what, if anything they found at that house.

Schelling was 8 weeks pregnant when she drove from Denver to Pueblo to meet up with Lucas. He is believed to be the father of the unborn child. She was never seen again but her car was found in the parking lot of a Pueblo hospital.

Denver7's Liz Gelardi will be in court for the preliminary hearing and will provide updates throughout the day. She has provided extensive coverage on the Schelling case and more information is available here.