washingtonpost.com
The Lapses Behind a Killer's Rampage

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, September 13, 2008

A sentence of four consecutive life terms in prison ensures that Anthony Kelly will die in jail. He deserves nothing less.

On Aug. 6, 2002, Kelly pistol-whipped and then fatally shot 9-year-old Erika Smith in Silver Spring. Next, he fired eight shots into the body of her father, Greg Russell, killing him, too.

In March that year, Kelly pistol-whipped and raped a 60-year-old grandmother in Silver Spring. Weeks later, he raped a 20-year-old woman at knifepoint in Wheaton.

Kelly has also been accused of committing another murder.

Circuit Court Judge Durke G. Thompson was right to send Kelly to a place where he will never breathe freedom again.

You may have read about this case in The Post on Tuesday. What you may not know, since the story focused on the Montgomery County courtroom drama, was that Anthony Kelly should not have been on the streets in the first place.

He was allowed to embark on a six-month rampage of rape, assault and murder because the U.S. Parole Commission, a halfway house in the District of Columbia called Hope Village, and the federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), which oversees inmates on probation and parole, failed miserably at their jobs.

I've written before about Anthony Kelly. [" Justice for a Murdered Father and Daughter? How Government Failures Led to a Parolee's Rampage," Aug. 19, 2006; " Who Let a Killer Into Erika Smith's World?" Sept. 2, 2006; " Who's the Incompetent One Here?" Sept. 30, 2006]. The federal role in his rampage is worth another look.

In 2001, Kelly, a master manipulator with 12 felony convictions and 34 second-degree burglary convictions under his belt, ran a game on the U.S. Parole Commission by talking his way out of detention five years before his sentence was complete.

Having fallen for Kelly's fraudulent representations, the government released him to Hope Village, a federally sponsored halfway house in the District. While there, Kelly violated numerous conditions of his placement -- infractions that should have prompted his return to prison.

Instead of Kelly getting another spell behind bars, Hope Village released him into the D.C. community on March 7, 2002, placing him under CSOSA's supervision.

In the six months that followed, Kelly went about raping, killing, assaulting and stealing until he was captured on Sept. 5, 2002.

Before sentencing Kelly on Monday, the judge heard from relatives of the victims. They spoke with feeling about their losses. The judge also heard from Kelly, a first-class fool and a murderer if there ever was one.

Unfortunately, the families did not hear from the entities -- the federal agencies -- that had made it possible for Anthony Kelly to do what he did.

It would have been nice to hear members of the U.S. Parole Commission explain to the families how Kelly managed to talk his way out of secure confinement five years before his scheduled release date.

I wish it had been possible to call to the witness stand those employees of Hope Village, the U.S. government-sponsored halfway house in Southeast. Kelly played those workers like a drum.

Hope Village workers should have been made to look the families in the eye and tell them why:

· The halfway house didn't know Kelly had a sham job with a relative when he should have been employed.

· No one bothered to make contact with his so-called employer or visit his place of employment as required.

· Kelly was allowed to do as he pleased while assigned to Hope Village, even spending his time tooling around town in stolen vehicles.

Officials from CSOSA could also have enlightened the victim's families about the nature and extent of the monitoring they provided Kelly while he was under their supervision.

After all, while he was under CSOSA's supervision, Kelly:

· Raped a woman in March 2002.

· Raped a woman in June 2002.

· Allegedly assaulted a police officer in June 2002 after being arrested in a stolen car.

· Allegedly robbed and killed a tourist from Seattle in August 2002.

· Allegedly smashed a window in a Maryland gun store in August 2002 and stole five weapons, including the gun that was used to murder Erika and her dad.

Yes, there's so much more to be known. But Maryland prosecutors and the judge can go only so far.

So, what about the federal government, without which Anthony Kelly would not have been able to rape and kill as he did?

That question is not just for the relatives but for the rest of us, as well. We, the taxpayers, foot the bill for the U.S. Parole Commission, the halfway house and CSOSA. Who in those institutions is being called to account for what Anthony Kelly did to innocent people?

Does anyone at the Justice Department or in Congress care about this tragedy that was facilitated, in part, by the federal government?

If accountability still matters to the executive branch or on Capitol Hill, this case should be far from over.

kingc@washpost.com

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company