Krystal Lee Kenney, an Idaho woman who testified that she helped her ex-boyfriend clean up a murder scene and pled guilty to tampering with evidence by removing the victim's phone, has now had her three-year sentence vacated and will be resentenced at a later date, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled.
Kenney's ex-boyfriend, Patrick Frazee, was found guilty in November 2019 of killing his fiancee, Kelsey Berreth. He was sentenced to life without parole plus 156 years.
During Frazee's trial, Kenney testified that Frazee beat Berreth to death with a baseball bat on Thanksgiving Day 2018 while Frazee and Berreth's 1-year-old daughter sat in another room.
Kenney, who was a nurse, testified that Frazee called her to come to Berreth's Colorado house to clean up the crime scene.
Kenney entered a guilty plea to one count of tampering with physical evidence, and in January 2020 she was sentenced to three years behind bars -- the maximum possible enhanced sentence with a finding of aggravated factors.
But the Colorado Court of Appeals said Thursday that three years is twice the maximum presumptive term and remanded the case to district court for resentencing in the presumptive range.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the initial court "did not 'specifically inform' Kenney in the plea hearing or at sentencing of her right to have 'a jury determine aggravating facts beyond a reasonable doubt.' The court advised her that she would be 'giving up some significant, substantial constitutional rights' by pleading guilty, including the right to have a jury determine all issues of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
"The court also told Kenney that she could receive a sentence of up to three years if the court found aggravating factors," the appeals court said. "But nothing in the record reflects 'at a minimum' that (1) the court advised Kenney of her Blakely rights and the consequences of waiving them, and (2) Kenney nevertheless chose to waive them."
Kenney's attorney had filed an aggravated sentencing objection under Blakely v. Washington that "holds that a trial court may aggravate a defendant's sentence only under certain circumstances," the court of appeals said.
The appeals court determined "Kenney's admission was not Blakely-compliant, and the district court therefore erred by aggravating Kenney's sentence based on the admission."
"She's serving an unconstitutional sentence," Kenney's attorney, Dru Nielsen, told ABC News. "The judge did not have the ability to sentence her up to three years."
Krystal Kenney's family is relieved by the ruling, her uncle, Collin Kenney, told ABC News, adding that she hasn't been able to see her two children because of the pandemic.
The Teller County Court's office said a resentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Kelsey Berreth's body was never found.