'Egocentric' Husband Sentenced In Slaying

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 3, 2009

Standing before one of the toughest judges in the region Friday, Kevin Kelly might have been wise to offer simple contrition before being sentenced for gunning down his estranged wife outside a Sunday church service in Silver Spring seven months ago.

Instead the 53-year-old accountant appeared to want to settle a few scores -- against his wife, who he again claimed was having an affair, against church members, who he said wouldn't believe him, and against his teenage stepdaughter, who he said hadn't told the truth when testifying at his trial.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence J. McGann sat stone-faced, waiting for him to finish.

"You are a self-absorbed, egocentric murderer," McGann said, handing down a sentence of life in prison with no parole.

The killing of Patricia Simmons Kelly on Feb. 22 shattered the sense of sanctuary at People's Community Baptist Church, as such tragedies have at congregations nationwide. Kelly admitted to shooting his wife, but said he did so in a split-second decision that showed that the slaying was not premeditated. A jury last month didn't believe him, and convicted him of premeditated murder.

Kelly spoke for nearly 20 minutes at his sentencing Friday. He expressed sorrow, at times choking up with tears and apologizing to his late wife, her family and her friends.

"I am so, so sorry. . . . Every night, before I cry myself to sleep, I blow kisses [toward] heaven, hoping" they reach his wife, Kelly said.

But Kelly also brought up his belief that his wife had a boyfriend, saying he arrived at the church on Feb. 22 to confront him. Kelly said he never knew the man's name, but had long ago given him an alias.

"For lack of a better name, I chose the name 'Junebug,' " Kelly said in court. "So many people, for whatever reason, do not want this person to exist, but he does. He was the person that I wanted to confront. My wife and I were talking, and that led to an argument, and I snapped. And I shot her, and now she's dead."

The fact that Kelly brought up Junebug, and that he took the time to criticize his late wife and her daughter, angered friends and family members who came to watch the sentencing.

"I thought that it was horrendous," Joserine Chandler said after the sentencing. "Once again, he still wants to be in control. He killed my best friend. . . . He is still trying to punish her name."

Chandler and others have always denied that Patricia Kelly ever had an affair.

Kevin Kelly's attorney, Gary Gerstenfield, said his client wasn't trying to settle scores, and upheld one of the main points of court proceedings: To try to be honest.

"He was given the opportunity to speak his mind, and these are genuine feelings that he had," Gerstenfield said.

During the sentencing, the judge praised Patricia Kelly and her daughter, Iesha, calling the former "a lovely, vibrant, hardworking mother" and the latter "a remarkable high school senior."

Speaking to Kevin Kelly, McGann described how Kelly fired three bullets into his wife's midsection.

"You fired two more rounds at her while she lay lifeless in a bloody heap in the bushes," McGann said, reading from prepared remarks. "One gunshot struck Patricia in the upper left chest, severed two arteries, and pierced the left atrium of her heart. Another gunshot entered her left abdominal cavity, penetrated her liver, small bowel, stomach, pancreas, and lodged in her spinal column. Either of these bullets would have been lethal."

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