Kelly to stand trial for premeditated murder
August 10, 2011 - ROCHESTER HILLS – Despite his defense attorney's argument for a lesser charge, Robert Brian Kelly, 52, of Oxford, will stand trial for first-degree premeditated murder concerning the death of his 20-year-old daughter, Megan Brittany Roberts.
"There's no evidence on this record at all of any premeditation," said Kelly's attorney, Sanford Schulman. "I would say (an) appropriate charge could be second-degree murder."
Schulman argued the first-degree charge was largely based on assumptions by the prosecution as opposed to actual witness testimony presented during the Aug. 4 preliminary examination in 52-3 District Court.
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Greg Townsend argued there was "overwhelming evidence of premeditation" based on the fact that Roberts was sleeping on the morning of May 9 when Kelly walked across the S. Glaspie St. house into her bedroom and allegedly bludgeoned her repeatedly with an aluminum baseball bat.
Roberts, who was a 2009 graduate of Oxford High School, sustained a traumatic brain injury and went into a coma. She was taken off life support on July 14 and died 13 days later at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. An autopsy determined the cause of death was "blunt force head trauma with complications."
Ultimately, Judge Lisa Asadoorian ruled that the prosecutor did meet his burden of proof and bound Kelly over to circuit court
"Premeditation is not measured in any unit of time," Asadoorian explained. "It's enough for premeditation if someone has time to pause and reflect on their actions."
"It's likely that the defendant had to move a certain amount of feet and distance to the victim's room where the assault obviously took place," the judge continued. "The court feels that sufficient evidence has been presented by the prosecution (showing) that interval as a time to reflect on any pending action that took place."
Only three witnesses testified during Kelly's preliminary examination – Oxford Village Police Det. Clint Ascroft, Oxford Dispatcher Tony VanHouten and the victim's mother, Julie Roberts, who was married to Kelly for 11 months before they divorced.
The most damning testimony came from VanHouten who indicated that Kelly confessed his crime to him just after he dispatched the 9-1-1 call placed by Julie Roberts.
According to the dispatcher, Kelly walked into the police station at 8:07 a.m. – immediately following the alleged beating – and indicated he wished to report an assault.
"I asked him if he knew who did it and he stated, 'Yes, I did,'" VanHouten said.
Ascroft, who was the first officer on the scene at approximately 8 a.m., testified that when he entered Roberts' bedroom, she was lying in bed, wearing pink pajamas. He described her as "unrecognizable in the facial and head area" as she was "covered in blood and tissue."
"I could see her chin," Ascroft said. "Everything else was covered in blood."
"It appeared to me that she had been sleeping," the detective said. "There were no signs of a struggle. Her clothes weren't disheveled. She seemed peaceful on the bed."
At the time of the alleged assault, Julie Roberts was sleeping on a couch in the room between her daughter's bedroom and Kelly's room. She had been at the house celebrating Mother's Day the day before and agreed to spend the night at her daughter's request.
Julie Roberts testified that she heard her ex-husband walk past her twice on the morning of May 9.
The first time he walked by her, she didn't think much of it and went back to sleep.
"I figured he was going to the bathroom," Julie Roberts said.
The second time he walked by Julie Roberts, he was heading in the direction of the front door. She called his name, but received no response, so she got up and followed him.
Twice she asked Kelly "what's going on?," but again, he didn't respond.
Julie Roberts said she then yelled out her daughter's name twice and received no response, so she went into her bedroom. When she saw her daughter's condition, she immediately called 9-1-1.
Roberts was lying there almost motionless, according to her mother. The only thing moving was her leg, "almost like convulsions," noted Julie Roberts.
While waiting in the ambulance, Julie Roberts testified she learned what had happened to her daughter. "I told them to find a red (Chevy) Cobalt, to find her dad . . . 'cause I figured he did it," she said.
It was repeatedly stated during the hearing that there was no fight, no struggle, no argument prior to the alleged attack.
"The last words he said (were), 'Good night, Boo, I love you," said Julie Roberts, referring to the last thing she heard Kelly say to her daughter the night before.
Following the hearing, Schulman told reporters outside the courtroom that he believes his client's actions were the result of a "history of mental illness, untreated."
"He snapped," the attorney said.
Schulman noted that Kelly had been prescribed Xanax, which is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
It was revealed during the hearing that Kelly had previously written a suicide note, which Shulman said was written a couple weeks prior to the alleged assault.
He told reporters that Kelly had a "strong bond with his daughter" and that's part of what makes this whole thing so "mystifying."
"I think really at the root of it is just mental illness," Schulman said. "It's kind of like a bad storm. You can't explain it, but you want to blame someone."
When asked if Kelly recalls anything about the alleged assault, Schulman replied, "It's a vague memory. It's a blur – kind of like being in an accident, you remember certain things, a siren, a yell."
This appears to be contrary to what Kelly's previous defense attorney, James Galen, Jr., said back in May.
At that time, he told this reporter that Kelly had blacked out and had no recollection of the alleged beating.
"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 station," said Galen in a previous interview.
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.