GREELEY — Prosecutors in the double-murder trial of Kevin Dean Eastman finished up the first week of testimony Friday in what is scheduled to be a four-week long process with a full day of witnesses who testified about Eastman’s past violent tendencies toward Heather Frank and her romantic partners.
It took a full week to seat the 9-woman, 7-man jury that includes four alternates.
Eastman is accused of killing Stanley Scott Sessions and Heather Frank, 53 and 48 respectively at the time of their deaths. Prosecutors say it was in the name of jealousy and control. Friday’s testimony from friends, colleagues, and experts in interpersonal violence wrapped up a week of testimony that laid the groundwork for the prosecution’s theory.
Eastman was arrested in February 2020, on two counts of 1st Degree Murder, two counts of tampering with a deceased human body, two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of possession of a weapon by a previous offender. The weapon charge will be prosecuted in a separate trial at the conclusion of the murder trial.
Multiple issues including COVID, the pregnancies of both public defenders and the sheer magnitude of evidence requiring the defense more time to prepare, caused the more than 2-year delay in Eastman’s prosecution. The trial is expected to include around 100 witnesses and more than 1,000 pages, videos and pictures offered as evidence.
Eastman was originally arrested by Larimer County Sheriff deputies in connection with the killing of Sessions. Sessions was found dead near Old Flowers and Pingree Park roads in Bellvue, northwest of Fort Collins on Feb. 10, 2020. Sessions had not been seen since Feb. 8, 2020 when he told his father he was going to Fort Collins to see a friend.
Nearly a week after Sessions’ body was discovered, Frank was found dead at a home east of Greeley, just off U.S. 34 in Kersey on Feb. 16. It is believed that Sessions’ death occurred Feb. 8, 2020 at the home of Frank.
Eastman was arrested in Kersey at a gas station filling a gas container on Feb. 16th. Frank’s body was found in a wood pile nearby a smoldering burn pit at the Kersey location.
Throughout the week, prosecutors called a multitude of law enforcement agents and investigators who were on the scene at the location where Sessions’ body was discovered near Old Flowers and Pingree Park roads in Bellvue, northwest of Fort Collins on Feb. 10, 2020; at Frank’s home off 35th Avenue and 20th Street in Greeley; at the home of Troy Bonnell, where Frank’s body was found; and at the gas station in Kersey where Eastman was arrested.
That testimony included evidence taken from all the locations that included everything from footprints, fingerprints, hair, knives, guns and ammunition to blood stains, GPS tracking information, cell phone records and instant messaging records, among many other things.
Prosecutors started off the day showing the jury several pieces of evidence including the blood-stained carpet and carpet padding from where prosecutors believe Sessions was killed, along with a knife.
The majority of the day, however, was spent by prosecutors painting a relationship between Frank and Eastman that lasted about 7 years and was riddled with substance abuse and violence.
Several witnesses that included friends, Frank’s hairdresser and nail technician, and her employer from Doug’s Day Diner in Loveland all testified Eastman repeatedly hit and threatened Frank and any other romantic partner throughout their on-again, off-again relationship.
Before each testified, the judge told the jury they were only allowed to consider the evidence for the “limited purposes of establishing Mr. Eastman’s motive, intent, culpable mental state, his attitude toward and lack of caring for the physical well-being of Heather Frank and her romantic partners and friends and to explain the dynamics of their relationship at the time of the deaths in this case.”
They were not supposed to use it as evidence that Eastman had a propensity for violence.
The day started with emotional testimony from Frank’s son, Alex McLaughlin, who testified that Eastman continually abused his mother, including cutting her in the neck, among other things such as monitoring Frank’s movements, friends and cell phone.
A series of witnesses after McLaughlin corroborated his testimony about Eastman’s control over her.
Anthony Velarde, a friend of Frank’s, testified that Frank had told him multiple times she was in an abusive relationship and wanted out but didn’t know how.
Velarde said on one occasion during the summer of 2019 after Frank texted him to ask him for a ride because she was unable to drive, Eastman contacted him soon after and threatened him.
“The messages pretty much said, he was married to Mrs. Frank, to leave her alone, or he was going to (expletive) kill me,” Velarde said, adding Eastman repeated the threats saying if Velarde came back “I’ll kill you, I’m a roughneck. I’ll kill you; that’s my wife. I’ll stab you in the face with a screwdriver, and no one will find your body.”
Velarde said Frank told him she was in fear of Eastman because she could never get away from him. He was always lurking in the background, Velarde said.
On cross-examination Public Defender Ashley Morriss noted that Velarde’s testimony was all from memory from several years ago, but Velarde insisted his memory was accurate because “it was a rant. He reiterated that he wanted to kill me. To this date, I still remember those messages that he was lashing out, that he was going to stab me in the face and kill me.”
Also testifying about Frank’s relationship with Eastman was Frank’s hair and nail providers.
Angela Lesperance recalled a hair appointment in the fall of 2019 in which Frank was missing a golf ball sized portion of hair from the top of her head. Lesperance said Frank told her Eastman pulled it out in a fight. She testified that Frank also had injuries to her neck from being strangled in that same fight.
Lesperance also told the jury that on Dec. 20, 2019, Frank had invited her to go watch a jazz band “The Movers and Shakers” in Greeley, The Movers and Shakers was the band in which Sessions played trumpet.
Three witnesses later, Anna Myers, Frank’s nail technician, corroborated Lesperance’s testimony and further told the jury that Frank had confided in her about her interest in Sessions. The defense team said during opening arguments that Frank had no interest in Sessions and hinted that it was Frank who killed Sessions.
Frank’s employer and longtime friend, Alison Nolby told the jury that Frank loved the idea of being with Eastman when times were good, but when they were not, she was scared to leave him.
She was scared “that he would stop her if she tried to leave.” Nolby said.
When asked by prosecutor Steve Wrenn what Frank meant by stop her. Nolby said “she was afraid that he would …”
Nolby’s comment was cut short by an objection from the defense attorney Samantha Deveraux. After a private conference between the attorneys and the judge, Wrenn was able to reword his question into a yes or no question.
“Do you recall Heather telling you that when she wanted to break up with the defendant, she was worried about doing so because she was concerned that he wouldn’t take it well and it would be dangerous for her?” Wrenn asked.
“Yes,” Nolby responded.
Nolby told the jury there were multiple times when Frank came to work with bruises on her arms and neck and that she would attempt to hide them. In the final week of her life, after Sessions was murdered, Nolby said Frank looked “rough.”
“She looked like she had been crying,” Nolby said.
All of the testimony by Frank’s friends and associates is a classic example of intimate partner violence, according to prosecution witness Jean McAllister, an expert witness who specializes in interpersonal violence consulting.
“Typically, it is an attempt on the part of one intimate partner to control the other intimate partner,” McAllister said. “Have power over and control them in some fashion. That is when we are talking about violence that rises to the level of the charges in this case.”
Complete Colorado has been following this case since Sessions initially disappeared. All past stories can be found here. Complete Colorado is pooling media sources with Law and Crime Network, which is live streaming the trial. Every day of the trial can be found here.
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