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Kelly’s charge elevated to 1st-degree murder
Psychiatric exam finds father who allegedly beat daughter competent to stand trial

by CJ Carnacchio

August 03, 2011

An Oxford father who allegedly bludgeoned his 20-year-old daughter with a baseball bat on May 9 is now facing the prospect of life in prison without the possibility of parole given she died last week as a result of the injuries she sustained.

Robert Brian Kelly, 52, of Oxford, was arraigned Friday morning in Rochester Hills 52-3 District Court on the charge of first-degree premeditated murder.

Kelly was originally scheduled to have a preliminary examination on the felony charge of assault with intent to commit murder, but the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office elevated it to a murder charge after the victim, Megan Roberts, died on July 27 (see related story right).

Oxford Village Police Det. Clint Ascroft told the court the autopsy conducted by the Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office determined Roberts' cause of death was "blunt force head trauma with complications."

Kelly is accused of beating Roberts in the head with an aluminum baseball bat as she slept in a home on S. Glaspie St.

Immediately following the alleged attack, Kelly went to the village police station and "admitted to committing the crime," Ascroft told the court.

Roberts sustained a traumatic brain injury that left her in coma, requiring mechanical ventilation and tube feeding. She was taken off life-support July 14 and died 13 days later.

Dressed in orange garb issued by Oakland County Jail, Kelly, whose hands and feet were bound in shackles, answered in a low voice "Yes, your honor" when Judge Lisa Asadoorian asked him if he understood the murder charge against him and the potential penalty it carries with it.

A preliminary examination for the murder charge was scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 before Asadoorian.

The court also addressed the issue of the competency/criminal responsibility hearing requested by Kelly's former defense attorney back in May. Kelly was examined by doctors from the state's Center for Forensic Psychiatry and a report was made.

"The recommendation is that Mr. Kelly is currently competent to stand trial and face these proceedings," Asadoorian said. "Mr. Kelly is deemed competent to proceed today and on August 4."

Since May, Kelly has been lodged in the county jail in lieu of posting a $2 million bond.

In light of the fact that the charge against him is now first-degree premeditated murder, Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Townsend requested that Kelly's bond be cancelled and he be jailed without bond. "Given the nature of the amendment (to the criminal charge), sir, your motion's granted," Asadoorian said.

Investigators are still puzzled as to what motivated Kelly to allegedly beat his daughter in such a brutal fashion. Back in May, Kelly's former defense attorney, James Galen, Jr., told this reporter his client blacked out and had no recollection of the alleged attack.

"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 Galen in a previous interview.

At the time, Galen said Kelly had something either mentally or physically wrong with him and indicated he was suffering from a host of symptoms including hallucinations, headaches and a prolonged lack of sleep.

Kelly is now represented by Sanford Schulman, an attorney with offices in Detroit, Southfield and Taylor.

In addition to the criminal charge, Kelly is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by Roberts' aunt and duly appointed guardian, Sandra Bucklin. The suit was originally seeking damages against Kelly to help pay for Roberts' long-term medical care.

"It was the right thing to do for Megan and the family," Bucklin told this reporter. "If there are any assets, Megan should be entitled to those assets."

In a previous interview, Bloomfield Hills attorney Steve Weiss, who's representing Bucklin, noted that in the event of Roberts' death, it would be "converted into a wrongful death lawsuit."

"The focus will change from medical expenses to the losses suffered by her family members," Weiss said.

In order to prevent Kelly from "transferring or disposing of" his money, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Colleen O'Brien issued a temporary restraining order July 21.