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Pueblo man convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 2013 plans to appeal his case

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- More than one year after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2013, a Pueblo man plans to appeal his case.

On March 8, 2021, Donthe Lucas was convicted of the first-degree murder of his girlfriend, Kelsie Schelling. According to police, Schelling went missing in 2013 when she was supposed to be driving from Denver to Pueblo to visit Lucas, her boyfriend at the time.

Lucas was arrested in 2017 for her murder.

He was found guilty despite Schelling's body still missing, without identifying a murder weapon or a definitive crime scene. Prosecutors instead used evidence such as surveillance video and text messages during the trial.

One day after he was sentenced to life in prison for Schelling's murder, Pueblo District Attorney Jeff Chostner told KRDO he expected an appeal to be filed in the case.

Now, court documents obtained by 13 investigates indicate a plan to appeal.

"I was an old defense councilman, and that's what you do. You look for any errors the government has made," said Pueblo County District Attorney Jeff Chostner at a press conference on March 9, 2021. "I'm confident this trial team didn't make any significant errors, but I would also be naive to think an appeal might not take place."

The documents, filed on April 5, 2021, say that Darren Cantor, an attorney with the Colorado Alternate Defense Counsel, is appealing the conviction on behalf of Lucas.

The document states, "issues to be raised on appeal may include but are not limited to: All issues preserved by objection at trial, sufficiency of the evidence, sentencing; and, any other issues Appellant chooses to raise as plain error."

13 Investigates reached out to the plaintiff, the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

In a statement, the Colorado Attorney General's Office said:

The Department of Law does not comment on pending criminal appellate cases. We do, however, coordinate with local district attorney’s offices on these matters.

- Lawrence Pacheco, Director of Communications

13 Investigates has learned that Lucas' defense counsel is waiting on supplemental records, or more documents from the trial court, Pueblo County Courts.

Once they received all relevant documents, Lucas' counsel will have 45 days to file an initial brief in the Colorado Court of Appeals. After that is filed, the Colorado Attorney General's Office has time to file an answer brief.

Once both briefs are filed, the court will have an opportunity to hear oral arguments over the appellate issues if the court wishes.

No timetable has been set on when the initial brief and answer briefs will be filed.

Schelling has never been found.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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