Donthe Lucas trial for murder of Kelsie Schelling pushed back a 4th time due to COVID-19
The murder trial for Donthe Lucas will be pushed back a fourth time because of COVID-19.
11 News confirmed with 10th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner, all jury trials in the district are postponed until or after May 15. Lucas' trial was scheduled for May 5.
This comes after his trial has already been pushed back three times previously, most recently in December. The new trial date is slated for September 22 and is expected to last about five weeks.
The last pushback in December was because one of the defense lawyers for Lucas withdrew from the trial. The current team of three lawyers for Lucas did not feel prepared for a trial that was already rescheduled in January.
Donthe Lucas is charged with the 2013 disappearance of his then-girlfriend Kelsie Schelling. Schelling was pregnant at the time.
Originally, the trial was scheduled for April of 2019, but new evidence was found in the case over the summer. Schelling's attorneys said investigators found a 6-inch hair in the back of Schelling's trunk. After DNA testing, investigators found the hair to be the same as Sara Lucas, Donthe's mother.
Schelling went missing in February of 2013 when she was heading to Pueblo from Denver to see Lucas about her pregnancy. Schelling's body still has not been found.
"Her remains are still missing and what we need more than anything else is to be able to bring her and her baby home," said Laura Saxton, Kelsie Schelling's mother to 11 News in the past. "That's our top concern. [We] hope that we're able to do that."
Lucas' trial will remain in Pueblo despite his defense team's push to move it to a new location.
Lucas' defensive team said they are concerned with racial bias against Lucas and do not want to try this case twice. The judge denied the change of venue in June because he said Lucas' race has nothing to do with his guilt or innocence in this case.
"As long as we're able to get an impartial jury here, then this is where it'll be, and at this point, I really hope that happens because if we had to start over again somewhere else that setback would be devastating," Saxton said back in June.
Lucas was arrested in December 2017 while in jail on an unrelated robbery charge. Lucas pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in August 2018. Lucas' mother pleaded guilty to her role in the same robbery.
"Sara Lucas being a presence in this case in nothing new," said prosecutor Michelle Chostner.
Defense attorneys believed it was necessary to have an expert evaluate the new evidence found over the summer. The judge granted a continuance and rescheduled the trial, as well as waived Lucas' right to a speedy trial.