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'Something snapped'


Judge orders psychiatric exam for dad accused of beating daughter with baseball bat



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Kelly (click for larger version)
May 18, 2011 - By C.J. Carnacchio

Leader Editor

If you ask defense attorney James L. Galen, Jr., he'll tell you his client, Robert Brian Kelly, blacked out and has no recollection of allegedly beating his daughter with an aluminum baseball bat while she slept on the morning of May 9.

"He came to with a metal baseball bat in his hand, saw what he had done to his daughter, immediately dropped the bat and proceeded to the police department," said the Clinton Township-based attorney.

That's just one of the reasons he requested that Kelly, 52, of Oxford, be examined at the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

On Tuesday, 52-3 District Judge Lisa Asadoorian granted his request and ordered an examination of Kelly.

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Roberts
"It's clear to me that he's got some mental health problems that I'm not qualified, nor is the court qualified, to diagnose," said Galen, noting his impressions of Kelly were based on four "extensive" meetings he's had with his client.

Galen said he intends to file a notice with the court of his intent to assert the insanity defense.

"Given the facts and circumstances of what I've experienced with him, that's exactly what I'll be doing," he said.

Kelly was arraigned May 11 in Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court on the felony charge of assault with intent to murder.

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Oxford Village Police said Kelly turned himself in and confessed to the alleged assault shortly after it occurred.

The victim was his 20-year-old daughter, Megan Roberts, who's a 2009 graduate of Oxford High School, a student at Oakland Community College and a waitress at the Hamlin Pub in Orion Township.

She's being treated at POH Medical Center in Pontiac and her condition is still critical, but stable. Roberts is reported to be in a coma and on life support.

According to a May 17 post on the "Prayers for Megan" Facebook page, she is doing better than doctors expected.

"Megan is small, but mighty," wrote aunt Dawn.

A candlelight prayer ceremony for Roberts is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday, May 19 in downtown Oxford's Centennial Park.

A fund-raising event to help Roberts is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18 at the Rochester Elks Lodge (1002 N. Main St.).

Kelly is being held in the Oakland County Jail in lieu of posting a $2 million bond.

According to Galen, Kelly's on "suicide watch" at the jail. "They're keeping him in his cell, naked, with a so-called blanket and nothing else," the attorney said.

Galen said Kelly was experiencing a myriad of symptoms prior to the alleged assault including "a suicide attempt; days on end without sleep; pressure and pain on the back of his head, behind his ear; visual and audio hallucinations; lack of appetite; and numbness in his wrists and his hands."

"I'm not sure it's psychiatric; it's possible it might be medical. I don't know," the attorney said. "I believe it could be either mental or physical."

Galen noted his client is continuing to experience these symptoms while in jail.

"I've been doing my job for 21 years as of May 23, and I believe the man's got something wrong with him," he said.

According to Galen, Kelly's behavior is not consistent with his background, which includes approximately 25 years as a private practice psychologist, two master's degrees from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, and a bachelor's degree from U-M.

"You'd think that he'd be able to adequately describe to me what went on and discuss his case rationally. He's unable to do that right now in my opinion," Galen said. "He's not lucid. He's not responding in an appropriate manner."

Galen noted his client has no prior criminal history and in talking to those who knew him, there was "nothing leading up to the incident to indicate that he'd act out in a violent manner."

"Something snapped," he said. "Every family member, co-worker (and) neighbor all said the same thing, this is absolutely out of character. Nobody can believe it. Everybody says the same thing – he must have snapped. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but that's what they all say."

Galen indicated the Center for Forensic Psychiatry will test Kelly's competency to stand trial ("can he know and understand the nature of the charges against him and is he able to aid his attorney in his own defense") and his criminal responsibility ("did he know and appreciate his actions and was he able to comport his actions with the requirements of the law").

Judge Asadoorian scheduled both a preliminary examination and a competency hearing for Friday, July 29 at 9 a.m.

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.
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