Prosecutors hone in on cell knowledge, GPS monitoring in Greeley double murder case – Greeley Tribune

Cellular location data of the 50-year-old man on trial for killing two Greeley residents in February 2020 links him to where both dead bodies were found but the defense believes the data’s accuracy is difficult to prove.

Kevin Dean Eastman appeared for his trial Tuesday before Weld Judge Marcelo Kopcow with his defense attorneys Samatha Deveraux and Ashley Morriss.

His case has seen numerous trial delays due to COVID-19, but he entered a not-guilty plea in April 2021. Eastman is facing first-degree murder after deliberation, tampering with deceased human bodies and tampering with evidence charges for the suspected double homicide of his on-and-off girlfriend Heather Frank and well-known local musician Scott Sessions.

In early Febuary 2020, a snowplow driver found Sessions’ body wrapped in plastic near a “smoldering” large log in Pingree Park in Larimer County. Prosecutors believe Eastman cut Sessions’ throat at Frank’s home before dumping and attempting to burn his body.

Nearly a week later, law enforcement located Frank’s body in a pile of wood at a rural Kersey property where Eastman was employed. Eastman is also accused of being the culprit in her murder by fatally shooting her in the chest twice and then wrapping her body in plastic — similar to how Sessions’ body was found.

Cellular data, GPS tracking come into play

Kevin Hoyland, a special agent with the FBI and full-time member of the bureau’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team, previously spoke this February at a hearing about his expertise in cellular analysis using “Real Time Tool” (RTT) data, which helps pinpoint the locations of devices during investigations. 

Prosecutors obtained a report from Hoyland of Verizon’s RTT cellular data from Feb. 8-16 to find the locations of four people’s devices tied to this case: Eastman, Frank, Sessions and Troy Bonnell, who owns the Kersey property and previously employed Eastman.

On Monday, the defense had spent a lengthy amount of time arguing Bonnell as an alternate suspect and highlighting inconsistent and not credible statements he has made about the case.

In February, the court held a hearing with Hoyland to discuss RTT’s reliability and if it could be used against Eastman. The defense argued unreliable components of such data result in difficulty connecting their client to the murders and make it impossible to exclude other possible suspects.

At the previous hearing, Kopcow ruled he would evaluate if prosecutors would be allowed to introduce this data to a jury. But on Tuesday, Weld County Deputy District Attorney Steve Wrenn called Hoyland to testify on the matter, walking through his report page by page to show the cellular locations of those involved over the days that lead up to Eastman’s arrest.

Beginning on the evening of Feb. 8, Eastman, Sessions and Frank’s cellphones were identified 0.15 miles from a cellphone tower. While Hoyland emphasized throughout his testimony that he couldn’t determine the exact locations, he said Frank’s residence is the suspected location based on the home being in the same sectors as the phones, as well as the same distance from the tower.

Hoyland’s report documented that Sessions made his last phone call on Feb. 8 at 6:22 p.m., and his father’s testimony on July 5 revealed this was the last time he heard from his son.

Also, Sessions’ phone recorded he was near Frank’s home around 6:27 p.m. By 7:02 p.m., all three of their devices were in the immediate area of Frank’s residence, Hoyland said.

But, during cross-examination, Deveraux found Hoyland never documented in his report that Eastman was also tracked to Frank’s home in the early afternoon, as well as later in the day. He only highlighted Eastman’s presence at the time of Sessions’ arrival, she pointed out.

A lack of activity from Bonnell’s phone during this time also means he could have been at her home as well, Deveraux said.

Sessions’ phone remained at the same distance until 5:19 a.m. on Feb. 9. After this timestamp, his phone stopped generating data — likely due to a dead battery or someone turning off the device.

Frank and Eastman’s devices recorded data at her residence at 6:55 a.m. that same morning. From this time, both their phones began to move throughout Greeley up to the entrance of the Poudre Canyon about 7:48 a.m. Hoyland said it is very likely Frank and Eastman’s devices were traveling together.

Hoyland is unable to prove that Eastman and Frank were the ones traveling with their devices, he testified, but he can prove it was their phones.

Due to poor connection in the Poudre Canyon, where Pingree Park is located and where Sessions’ body was found, timestamps of the phone location data didn’t reappear until 11:49 a.m. This pinpointed the two phones back at the bottom of the canyon, where they allegedly entered earlier in the morning, according to Hoyland.

Just before 1 p.m., both devices were tracked back to a location suspected to be Frank’s home, where the phones stayed until the next day.

Throughout Feb. 8 and 9, Hoyland indicated Bonnell’s phone records didn’t appear to show he traveled near Frank’s residence or near Poudre Canyon, Wrenn addressed during questioning. He also confirmed with Hoyland that Bonnell and Eastman had phone conversations that month but only on two occasions. The RTT report documented the last call took place on Feb. 6.

However, Hoyland never received additional information about Bonnell having multiple phone numbers — revealed at Bonnell’s full-day testimony Monday. Bonnell allegedly had another number connected to a Kindle and a number connected to a tracker phone. He also used the encrypted messaging app Signal, and Verizon cannot access this app’s data, Hoyland said.

Deveraux argued Hoyland cannot prove there weren’t more calls between Eastman and Bonnell or that Bonnell wasn’t involved in the trip to Pingree Park.

Continuing into Feb. 10, Frank’s phone traveled to Loveland near a restaurant where she worked just before 5 a.m. But Eastman’s phone stayed put until 8 p.m. Feb. 11.

On the afternoon of Feb. 11, Bonnell’s phone signaled to a few towers in Greeley. About 3:27 p.m., the first spot aligned with what Hoyland believed to be his Kersey residence. The second location tracked him near Frank’s place, which matched Bonnell’s testimony that he drove to her house looking for Eastman who had not shown up to work for the last few days.

By 8 p.m., Eastman’s phone moved to a location that intersects with Bonnell’s property and remained at this location until the next morning.

At 5 a.m. Feb. 12, Eastman left the Greeley area. His phone signaled to towers in Longmont and the Denver area. At 11:58 a.m., his device was found back in the suspected location of Bonnell’s property until close to 3 a.m. when he was tracked back to Frank’s home.

Meanwhile, Frank’s device was stationary at her residence on Feb. 12-13.

About 6:17 a.m. Feb. 13, Eastman’s phone traveled east toward Bonnell’s residence, while Frank appeared to be at work in Loveland.

After Eastman’s device arrived at Bonnell’s property, their cellular locations documented their travel to the Lochbuie area at neighboring times, according to Hoyland. During Bonnell’s testimony, there were inconsistent statements made to the jury that didn’t add up to his past remarks about when or if this trip occurred, which concerned the defense.

By the evening time, Hoyland located Eastman at Frank’s residence. Both Frank and Eastman remained in the location through the evening of Feb. 14. No further calls were made by the two from around 7:40 p.m. Feb. 13 throughout the following day.

After 7:40 p.m. Feb. 13, Eastman’s device also stopped producing data. And on Feb. 15, earlier in the day, Frank made her final outgoing voice call from Loveland.

Hoyland began incorporating the GPS tracker data into Wrenn’s direct examination because law enforcement began tracking Eastman and Frank’s vehicles at 5:14 p.m. Feb. 15.

Eastman’s vehicle moved from Frank’s home to the Bonnell residence. Past testimony in the trial disclosed that video surveillance captured Frank and Eastman both leaving in his vehicle, but Frank was never seen again on footage after this incident.

Prior to this, RTT data showed Bonnell at his house more than 30 minutes before Eastman’s move. After 9 p.m., Eastman’s vehicle moved again to the South Platte River, where he only spent a couple of minutes before going back to Bonnell’s property in Kersey.

At 12:32 a.m. Feb. 16, Eastman’s vehicle headed to locations within the Pawnee Grassland area. He returned to Bonnell’s home about six hours later, Hoyland said. During that time, Bonnell made a phone call that lasted 16 minutes.

In Bonnell’s testimony, as well as Jennifer Edmunds’ testimony, his then-girlfriend and former employee, both indicated they chatted over the phone around this time. Edmunds said she came over the evening of Feb. 15 for business-related matters and to hang out with Bonnell, before going home the next morning. The former couple attested to talking over the phone while she drove home from his place on most occasions.

At 7:46 a.m., Bonnell placed another call to a phone just west of the city of Evans. Nearly an hour later, data located Eastman’s vehicle a few minutes away from Bonnell’s home at a gas station, where law enforcement arrested him.

Deveraux asked if Hoyland knew of law enforcement’s theory about Eastman being the suspect in the case before he generated the report. After Hoyland answered, “yes,” she asked if he based his report on this theory.

“No … the data is data. My job is to just put it on a map,” Hoyland said.

Defense questions Bonnell

Todd Zwetzig, a Weld County Sheriff’s Office criminalist who specializes in digital evidence, downloaded and analyzed three devices in Eastman’s case, according to his testimony Tuesday.

Zwtetzig said he did not uncover much information from the phones, especially since a black iPhone 11 was in “start-up” mode with no user data. Wrenn asked what date and time this device became reset, and Zwetzig said data showcased a reset occurred at 5:12 p.m. Feb. 15, a few minutes before Eastman and Frank traveled in his vehicle from her residence to the Bonnell residence.

While analyzing an iPhone SE, Zwtetzig found limited data, but he associated the phone with an email using Bonnell’s name and also discovered access to an Apple ID.

Deveraux questioned Zwtetzig about an Apple preservation request that led to obtaining a search warrant — a component not previously mentioned in direct examination. She then asked him if the phone associated with Bonnell was located inside Eastman’s rear vehicle seat during the search, but prosecutors quickly shut this question down with an objection.

Bonnell continued his testimony from Monday with Deveraux cross-examining him on the stand before Edmunds testified. On the night of Feb. 15, as she made plans to go to Bonnell’s home, she talked with him on the phone.

Edmunds said he mentioned she would be meeting Eastman, which conflicted with Bonnell’s previous testimony that Eastman showed up unannounced. However, most of his statements seemed to show inconsistencies throughout his testimony.

After meeting Eastman, Edmunds said she went into Bonnell’s bedroom for 20 to 30 minutes before Bonnell followed her. She said Eastman seemed friendly and wasn’t acting strangely during their encounter. She also confirmed nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the home.

However, Deveraux brought up past statements made by Edmunds to investigators where she said Bonnell seemed stressed, on edge and restless. During her testimony, Edmunds indicated Bonnell often became easily stressed and emotional.

Since Bonnell is the alternate suspect in this trial, the defense mentioned how Edmunds initially didn’t volunteer information because she worried she would be in trouble. Edmunds confirmed the defense’s suspicions because she had a protection order that forbade her from seeing Bonnell at the time, as well as five pending criminal cases.

Due to this, when she talked with Weld County’s lead detective, Gerald Porter, about the case, she asked him for help, the defense highlighted. Porter told Edmunds that he promised he would relay her cooperation to the district attorney’s office, according to Deveraux.

Overall, Edmunds avoided jail time and her probation sentences were not revoked, Deveraux said, hinting that the district attorney’s office had played a part in this because of her cooperation. But Weld County Deputy District Attorney Yvette Guthrie clarified with Edmunds that she never received special disposition from anyone at the office and her electric home monitoring didn’t change.

Additional testimony

When law enforcement took Bonnell into custody on Feb. 16 after his property was searched, Detective Tyler Schall and Deputy Mark Guyer interviewed him for about six hours.

Guthrie called Schall to the stand to attest to Bonnell’s demeanor and body language changing upon hearing the news a dead body was found on his property. Schall testified Bonnell went from relaxed, tired and leaning back to an immediate change of his eyes widening, his voicing raising and his body leaning forward.

Prosecutors played a video from the interview to show Bonnell’s behavior.

“I got nothing to do with this … I don’t deserve this …,” Bonnell yelled on the video.

While Schall discussed Bonnell’s reaction, Guyer testified he swabbed Bonnell for gunshot residue and DNA.

At the end of Tuesday, Porter also briefly took the stand, where he brought up Facebook messages on Feb. 12 between Frank and Eastman, who used a different last name and fake age. Prosecutors showed the conversations to jury members but what was said between the two was not discussed in the open.

Eastman’s trial will continue 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Weld District Court.

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