Kevin C. Kelly, the Manassas father convicted of involuntary manslaughter for leaving his 21-month-old daughter, Frances, to die in a hot van two years ago, is appealing his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In February 2003, a Prince William County judge sentenced Kelly, who was also convicted of child endangerment, to spend one day a year in jail for seven years, sponsor a blood drive in his daughter's name and perform community service. The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld his conviction, and the Virginia Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal this summer.
"Mr. Kelly continues to be grateful to the trial court Judge Rossi Alston for the mercy he showed in his creative sentence," Edwin Vieira, Kelly's attorney, said in a statement. "Mr. Kelly remains determined however to pursue all available appeals to what he along with his family and friends consider to be cruel and unjust convictions."
Frances died May 29, 2002, of hyperthermia after she was left for seven hours strapped to her car seat in the family van, which was parked outside the home. Kelly told authorities that he left the toddler in the care of his eldest children while he did chores and errands.
During those seven hours, Frances sat outside the Zimbro Avenue home in the van, where the temperature reached well over 100 degrees, authorities said.
In his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kelly contends that the Court of Appeals unfairly raised the bar for parental liability to a "new legal standard."
The court "held the parent accountable when that parent had delegated responsibility and assumed that things had been taken care of," Kelly said.
In a news release, Kelly said he is also "appealing for prayers and help" in financing the Kevin Kelly Family Legal Defense Fund. Kelly, a civil engineer, said the costs of printing, binding and making 50 copies of his petition to the nation's highest court are as high as $7,000.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Sandra Sylvester, who prosecuted the case in Prince William County Circuit Court, said Kelly should take responsibility for Frances' death.
"It's too bad Frances didn't have any appellate remedies," she said. "Her sentence was death."