PUEBLO, Colo. (KKTV/AP) - UPDATE (8/28):
A Colorado man charged in the death of his pregnant girlfriend has pleaded not guilty.
Donthe Lucas pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in court in Pueblo on Tuesday. A judge scheduled his trial for April.
Defense attorneys said they would ask for the trial to be moved because of the attention the disappearance of Kelsie Schelling has received.
She was last seen in February 2013 headed from her home in Denver to Pueblo to talk to Lucas about her pregnancy. She is presumed to be dead but her body has not been found.
Lucas was arrested in December while in jail on an unrelated robbery charge.
UPDATE (6/12): A disposition hearing was held Tuesday ahead of Donthe Lucas' trial.
11 News tried to enter the courtroom for the hearing, but the judge granted a request from prosecutors and the defense attorney to close the courtroom.
Because of that, details are limited. However, 11 News learned that Lucas' grandmother, Vivian Lucas, testified on the details of what happened when Kelsie Schelling came down to Pueblo from Denver before her disappearance.
Lucas has another court date set for August 28 for the case.
PREVIOUS (5/31): A trial years in the making, Donthe Lucas could go before a jury for the murder of Kelsie Schelling. Lucas is accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend five years ago.
A judge decided on Thursday there was enough probable cause to hold a trial for Lucas even though the body of Schelling still hasn't been found. She drove from Pueblo to Denver in 2013 to visit Lucas and was never seen again.
A trial date has yet to be set, but Lucas is slated to enter a plea on Aug. 28. The defense says there is no body in this case and Schelling could even walk through the courtroom doors at any time because there is no proof she was killed. The prosecution claims the Colorado Bureau of Investigation did a proof of life test and everything they found says Schelling died when she went to visit Lucas.
Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, is relieved the case is moving forward.
"We have a long long hard road ahead of us," Saxton said to reporters outside the courtroom. "A huge victory, [we] haven't had victories in five years and we are thankful for what we get. This is, you know, just kind of a boost. Keep fighting, keep fighting; it's working and don't give up"
Lucas also has a preliminary hearing for a separate case tied to a robbery scheduled for Aug. 13.
UPDATE (5/25): At the end of the preliminary hearing Friday for the homicide of Kelsie Schelling, the judge announced the decision will be made Thursday, May 31 on if there's enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Schelling disappeared in February 2013. Her body has never been found. Last December, the arrest of her then-boyfriend, Donthe Lucas was announced in connection to her murder.
On Friday, testimony continued into the second day. Colorado Bureau of Investigation investigator Kevin Torres said he believes Kelsie Schelling was strangled in the house where Donthe Lucas used to live.
Investigators searched the backyard of the home on Manor Ridge Drive in southwest Pueblo back in 2017, but did not find any evidence.
Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, responded to questions of what will happen if the case does not go to trial.
"I do wonder what will I do," said Saxton. "I will definitely keep searching for Kelsie, I know that. I would hope investigations would still take place."
Before the judge makes his decision Thursday, attorneys on both sides will make their closing arguments.
UPDATE (5/24, 4:45 p.m.): The family of Kelsie Schelling will have to wait another day to find out if the man accused of killing her will face trial.
Neal Robinson, a former detective for the Pueblo Police Department who was assigned to the Schelling case, took the stand Thursday morning. Robinson stated special testing was done on the inside of Schelling's vehicle. The test results showed there was a unique gemstone found in her car that is found east of Beulah. Robinson told the court that was out of character for Schelling because according to her family she kept everything very clean.
The lawyers for Lucas pointed out there is a problem in the case. There is no evidence of a body being buried and no body has been found.
Former detective Robinson also pointed out $400 was taken out of Schelling's account to pay for Lucas' cell phone bill at the time. Lawyers for Lucas stated Schelling freely shared money with Lucas.
Testimony is scheduled to continue Friday and this article will be updated.
UPDATE (5/24, 12:40 p.m.): Kelsie Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, said Thursday's preliminary hearing was "very overwhelming and exhausting."
A judge could decide Thursday if there is enough evidence for Schelling's former boyfriend Donthe Lucas to go to trial for her murder.
"It is overwhelming just to sit and hear it all presented all at once, to hear it coming from the detectives."
Saxton told 11 News nothing had come out that was shocking to her, but she was glad it was all now on court record.
"There was no bombshells dropped yet at this point. It’s just all pretty basic information that we’ve basically known for five years. ... It's all verified now, you know, in court record, and part of the record and all of his varying stories and everything is now part of the court record, so that’s a very good thing.”
She said the information about Schelling and Lucas' cell phone (which can be read below): was "very, very important."
She told 11 News she hopes the court process will finally lead her to Schelling's whereabouts.
"The most important thing for us is to be able to bring Kelsie home."
UPDATE (5/24, 12 p.m.): Law enforcement are revealing more about the case they have against Donthe Lucas.
The 25-year-old is accused of killing his girlfriend Kelsie Schelling more than five years ago and is believed to have disposed of her body, which has never been found.
A preliminary hearing Thursday will determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial.
According to two officers who testified Thursday, Lucas is the only person to admit to seeing Schelling on Feb. 5, 2013. She was last seen by everyone else on Feb. 4, 2013.
Chad Sinnema with the Denver Police Department said Lucas allegedly told him that he had gone to Parkview Medical Center with Schelling on Feb. 4, where she learned she was no longer pregnant. Schelling dropped Lucas off on the morning of Feb. 5 and it was the last time he saw her, Sinnema said Lucas told him.
Detective Ted Binet, also with the Denver Police Department, said Lucas told him a different story. Binet told the courtroom that according to Lucas, Schelling came to Pueblo to see a doctor about her pregnancy. Lucas told police they parked in the Walmart parking lot on the city's south side but got in a fight and Schelling kicked him out.
Binet said Lucas told him 10 a.m. on Feb. 5 was the last time he saw Schelling -- several hours later than the 3-5 a.m. Lucas told Sinnema.
Text messages on Lucas' phone revealed he texted Schelling that he had a surprise for her and to come to Pueblo.
Messages on Schelling's phone showed she texted him she was pregnant, and the messages indicated Lucas was unhappy. GPS on her phone showed it traveled to the same location in Pueblo as Lucas' phone -- and did not show her ever visiting Parkview.
Parkview had no record of Schelling ever being treated there.
Police said in court Thursday Lucas took $400 out of Schelling's account at 11:37 a.m. Feb. 5.
PREVIOUS (5/23): Investigators say Donthe Lucas killed his pregnant girlfriend, Kelsie Schelling, who disappeared five years ago. Her body has never been found.
Thursday, a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for the case to go to a trial.
11 News been following this case closely since 2013 when Schelling was first reported missing.
We knew she drove down from Denver to Pueblo to tell her then-boyfriend Lucas she was two months pregnant.
Pueblo police say two days later, they found her car in southside Walmart parking lot.
Even now, those closest to her are asking: what happened to 22-year-old Schelling? As her accused killer, Lucas, is set to go before a judge, no one knows the answer.
"We know that she and Donthe met, he admits that they met, but what transpired after is where the lies begin," Schelling’s mom Laura Saxton told us in a previous interview.
For a few years, the investigation was stalled. In 2016 the CBI joined the investigation and the search for answers was reignited.
Investigators dug in the backyard of Lucas’ former home last year.
Then a month later, they began digging in open areas on the southwest side of Pueblo.
"This area is within a 1-mile radius of the former residence of the person of interest Donthe Lucas," Pueblo Police Sgt. Eric Gonzales told us in April 2017.
Investigators still have not found Schelling’s body.
"It's always really hard when we get done with the search, don't have any results, so it's kind of a hard moment right now," Saxton told us after that search.
We talked to a former prosecutor about how the case could move forward with Schelling’s body still missing.
"If the police have some other damning piece of evidence then you don't need the body per se or particular piece of evidence," Brad Laybourne of Laybourne Law Firm said.
Thursday in court we could hear about evidence that has never been released to the public before as the judge works to make a decision on where the case goes now.
11 News will have a crew in the courtroom Thursday morning and let you know what happens.