Man who killed wife in church parking lot gets life in prison
Judge calls Kelly a 'self-absorbed, egocentric murderer' during sentencing
A New Jersey man who fatally shot his estranged wife in the parking lot of a Silver Spring church earlier this year was sentenced to life in prison without parole in a Montgomery County courtroom today.
Kevin Kelly, 53, was convicted by a county jury in September of first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. On Feb. 22, just days after his wife, 51-year-old Patricia Simmons Kelly, kicked him out of their Rockville home, Kelly drove from New Jersey to the People's Community Baptist Church in Silver Spring, confronted his wife and shot her five times in the parking lot. He thought she was cheating on him, he testified.
"You are a self-absorbed, egocentric murderer," Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann told Kelly in the Rockville court Friday, before sentencing him to life without possibility of parole for the murder charge. McGann also sentenced Kelly to 20 years in prison for the handgun charge.
Kelly's Silver Spring attorney, Greg Gerstenfield, argued during a four-day trial in September that Kelly should have been charged with second-degree murder because the killing was not premeditated. Kelly said he traveled to Silver Spring that day to confront the man he believed his wife had been having an affair with, a man he only calls "Junebug."
The Simmons family and prosecutors repeatedly denied Simmons Kelly was having an affair, but Kelly believed differently. So he said he brought the gun for self-defense in case "Junebug'' tried to fight him. When his wife provoked him by saying she could sleep with whomever she wanted, he snapped and shot her, Kelly argued during the trial.
"So many people, for whatever reason, don't want this person to exist, but he does," Kelly said during 15 minutes of erratic testimony Friday. "That's the man I was there for."
During his somber but rambling testimony, an occasionally teary-eyed Kelly apologized profusely to the Simmons family one minute and then accused them of lying the next. He began by apologizing to Simmons Kelly's 17-year-old daughter Iesha "for killing her mom, who was also her best friend."
During the trial, Iesha testified that Kelly's financial failures as a day trader put a strain on the family, and she often didn't have lunch money for school. Moments after his sobbing apology to Iesha, he accused her of lying in court, claiming she had went on several vacations in the past two years and got a new laptop for a recent birthday.
"That certainly doesn't sound like someone who doesn't have lunch money," Kelly said.
Kelly also apologized to the Simmons family and People's Community Baptist for taking away a loving sister and mother and a valuable member of the congregation. Looking toward the ceiling, he then apologized to his late wife of nine years and broke down in tears.
But then minutes later he accused the family and his deceased wife of covering up the affair he continued to allege she was having.
"It makes me wonder why no one wants to face the reality of Junebug and this love triangle," said Kelly, who was wearing a green prison jumpsuit and showed no reaction when he received his life sentence. "… I guess you want to put the reputation and image of things above the truth."
Simmons Kelly's family and friends stood by the woman they loved for her friendliness and positive attitude, some refusing to accept Kelly's contrived apology.
"I wanted to puke," Simmons Kelly's friend Joserine Chandler, a Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, said after the sentencing. "Even now, he's still trying to convince everybody that she was having an affair."
In his testimony Friday, Simmons Kelly's brother Arthur Simmons was more forgiving.
"I thought you were a better man than you turned out to be," said the soft-spoken Arthur Simmons, who lives in the Atlanta area and is now taking care of Iesha. "… But I'm not a hater, the Bible doesn't require me to hate people, but hate actions."