June 27, 2012 - "Twenty to thirty years (in prison) on a guy this old is a life sentence."
Megan Roberts, a 2009 graduate of Oxford High School, was brutally murdered by her father last year. (click for larger version)
That's how Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton characterized the future for Robert Brian Kelly, who pleaded guilty last week to the murder of his 20-year-old daughter, Megan Roberts.
On May 9, 2011, the 53-year-old Oxford man bludgeoned Roberts, a 2009 graduate of Oxford High School, to death with an aluminum baseball bat as she slept in her bed in their village home on S. Glaspie St. She was described as "unrecognizable" by the investigating officer.
Roberts suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her in a coma, requiring mechanical ventilation and tube feeding. She was taken off life support on July 14, 2011 and died 13 days later in the hospital.
Kelly is due to be sentenced by Oakland Circuit Court Judge Rudy Nichols on July 11. He's facing 20 to 30 years in prison.
"He will not be eligible for parole until he serves at least 20 years, which would make him 73," Walton said. "Realistically, that is going to be a life sentence."
Kelly was charged with first-degree, premeditated murder, but his defense attorney, Sanford Schulman, approached the prosecutor's office with the offer of a guilty plea in exchange for the reduced charge of second-degree murder.
Schulman did not respond to this reporter's attempts to reach him for comment. Schulman was unsuccessful in his previous attempts to get the murder charge against Kelly reduced to a lesser degree by arguing that there was no evidence of planning or forethought.
Roberts' family was in favor of taking the plea deal. "When the (victim's) family found out that there was an offer out there, they were very encouraged and they asked us to pursue it," Walton said. "A large part of it is that they didn't want to go through the stress of a trial. It would be very emotional for them."
"Even though we're very confident with the work that we put out, there's always a level of stress with the victim's family (to consider)," he noted.
If a trial had been held and Kelly had been convicted by a jury of his peers, the result could have been years and years of multiple appeals in state and federal courts.
"The trial process would probably (involve) another five (to) six (years), as much as 10 years, of the family being notified of court proceedings and things like that," Walton said. "Usually in murder cases, the victim's family does (attend court proceedings)."
Kelly has never given a reason as to why he killed his daughter. No motive was ever discovered by investigators.
His defense attorney claims he's mentally ill. When asked if Kelly will receive any psychiatric help while serving his prison sentence, Walton replied, "He's going to be a regular prisoner at this point, unless the (Michigan Department of Corrections) decides, through their internal processes, that they're going to give him some type of counseling."
Last year, Kelly was examined by doctors from the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry who deemed him competent to stand trial and be held criminally responsible for his actions.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.