By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
A prison parolee who killed a 9-year-old girl and raped a grandmother during a 2002 crime rampage in Montgomery County was sentenced yesterday to more than four life terms in prison, a punishment imposed minutes after he declared his innocence and told relatives of his victims that they "can't handle the truth."
Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson stacked Anthony Kelly's sentences back-to-back, adding 100 years for five related counts of robbery, burglary and weapons violations.
"Your actions have wrecked and destroyed lives," the judge told Kelly, 44. "This is the end of the road."
Before he was sentenced, Kelly spoke for 29 minutes. He spent most of the time sitting in a chair, his head turned away from the judge and toward his victims' relatives. Kelly told them that one day they would apologize to him for thinking he was guilty, and he suggested that they consult an attorney to better understand the particulars of the case. He also said he had been framed and had not been permitted to present evidence of his innocence.
"A lot of y'all got to get that through your head," he said.
After the hearing, several family members said it was all they could do to stay in their seats and not go after him.
At one point, Kelly, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, suggested that Carol Smith, the mother of the 9-year-old victim, Erika Smith, call the Montel Williams television show and ask to be booked with a psychic who was a regular guest.
"She is a professional, and she can talk to the dead," Kelly said, leaning back in his chair and looking toward Smith. "And I guarantee you that your loved one will tell you that I'm not the one that murdered them."
The judge saw it differently. He called the forensic evidence in the killings of Erika and Erika's father, Greg Russell, 47, more extensive than in any other case in his career.
"Proof in these cases has been overwhelming," Thompson said.
Kelly represented himself in three trials this year stemming from the 2002 rampage, all of which ended in quick convictions. At yesterday's hearing, he was sentenced in all three cases.
Kelly's rampage began late one night in March 2002, when he walked past a 60-year-old woman on a Silver Spring sidewalk, authorities said. He turned around, pistol-whipped the woman and raped her near a parked car, breaking her wrist and dislocating her shoulder in the process, according to trial testimony. The woman walked to a relative's home, and when she arrived, her face was so bloody that her daughter didn't recognize her.
"I am alive. I am alive," the woman said when she got there, according to State's Attorney John McCarthy, who tried the case.
Kelly raped again in June 2002, forcing a 20-year-old woman in Wheaton into a stolen Cadillac at knifepoint and assaulting her in a wooded area.
On Aug. 6 of that year, he broke into Russell's home in Silver Spring, wearing a long fake beard and a bushy wig, according to trial testimony. Kelly pistol-whipped Erika before shooting her and Russell, according to prosecutors and court testimony.
Yesterday, Kelly showed no remorse, asserting that police planted evidence to frame him. He described Erika's injuries in detail and with a degree of confidence that confirmed some relatives' belief that he was describing what he had seen.
"She was not pistol-whipped. She was not hit in the face with no type of object," Kelly said, adding that Erika would have had two black eyes and a swollen face had she been pistol-whipped.
"Erika was shot in her back," Kelly said. "When Erika fell down, her forehead hit the floor. And that's how she got that bruise, by hitting that floor and her body stretching out to the floor."
Before Kelly's comments, David Russell, one of Greg Russell's five brothers, and other relatives were given a chance to speak to the judge. Many had driven up from North Carolina for the hearing.
"He was my rock. He was all of our rocks," said David Russell, speaking through tears. "Since 2002, August the 6th, my mind, my nights, my days, my job, never a time passes by without thinking of him, without thinking of her, and how much I miss them."
The former high school linebacker, barrel-chested and 230 pounds, cast hard stares toward Kelly, about 20 feet away.
"If this man hits the street again, the courts won't have to worry about him again," David Russell said.
As requested by McCarthy, Thompson gave Kelly the maximum sentence.
"He will die in jail, where he belongs," McCarthy said.
Kelly was arrested in 2002, but for a time, he was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. He was confined to a state hospital, where he was treated, and this year, Thompson ruled that he was able to stand trial.
Kelly also is accused of killing a tourist near a Metro station in the District in 2002 and might face trial in that case as well.