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Jury returns guilty verdicts in Kelso case

Published: Tue, August 7, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



Despite a prosecution request that his bond be revoked and that he be jailed pending sentencing, a judge ruled that Christopher Kelso will remain free on his own recognizance after a jury convicted him of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault.

The six-man, six-woman jury returned its guilty verdicts late Monday after three hours of deliberations at the end of a weeklong trial before Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Kelso, 32, of East Midlothian Boulevard, faces up to 13 years in prison after being convicted in the death of his front-seat passenger, Pamela Kennedy, 28, of Boardman, and in the nonfatal injury of his back-seat passenger, Javier Colon, 31, of Youngstown.

After the verdicts were read, Nicholas Brevetta, an assistant county prosecutor, asked the judge to revoke Kelso’s bond, saying Kelso has previously violated his bond by drinking alcohol, according to trial testimony.

“He’s going to have the opportunity to get his affairs in order before the sentence is imposed. I don’t believe that he’s a threat to the community,” the judge said, ordering Kelso to consume no alcoholic beverages and use no illegal drugs while he remains free, pending his 11 a.m. Sept. 18 sentencing.

“It’s been really surreal. It’s been hard,” Kennedy’s mother, Virginia Sharpe of Struthers, said of the 21/2 years since her daughter’s death.

“I’m pleased with the verdict, but I’m not pleased with the judge’s reaction. This is the second time he let him walk,” she said, referring to the judge’s post-conviction order allowing Kelso to remain free pending sentencing.

Sharpe said she hopes Kelso gets at least a 10-year prison sentence.

In the 2:05 a.m. crash on Feb. 3, 2010, on Wilson Avenue, near Prospect Street, the car Kelso was driving went left of center, struck and broke a utility pole, and continued an additional 100 feet before landing upside down and trapping its occupants inside, according to Trooper Christopher Jester, an Ohio State Highway Patrol accident reconstructionist.

In his testimony, Jester estimated the westbound car’s speed at 39 mph to 53 mph in a 35 mph zone when it hit the pole. But Youngstown Police Sgt. Patricia Garcar pegged its speed at 60 mph on her initial crash report.

“We were convinced that he was either a., impaired, or b., his blood alcohol was over 0.08, or both, and that pretty much drove the verdict,” explained Jeffrey Stockdale of Poland, jury foreman.

Blood samples from Kelso registered 0.139 at 3:05 a.m., according to a hospital lab report, and 0.115 at 4:05 a.m., according to a police report. The legal limit is 0.08.

Kelso’s lawyer, Ross T. Smith, declined to comment after the verdicts.


1k9girl2223(19 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

First of all my heart aches for the family of Pam Kennedy...... What is up with our judicial system? He killed this girl he was extremely drunk and the judge let him walk not once but twice now!! Really?? I think this is absolutely horrible!!

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2k9girl2223(19 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

WKBN reported that Kelso told prosecutors during testimony that "he didn't feel legally responsible for Kennedy's death" Really now scumbag??You had a bac of 0.139 an hour after the accident took place!! You were drunk hello!! Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out!!

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3Boston6(5 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I didn't know Pam, but I am sure she was a great person. I do know Chris and he is a good friend and also a great person. This was a tragic accident that could have been avoided. However, this could have happened to anyone. Chris, Pam, and Javier obviously were all willing to get in the car. If they felt their lives were in danger they should have said something or found another ride home. Because someone lost their life you feel that Chris deserves to "burn". That is ridiculous. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but Chris is going to have to live with this pain and regret for the rest of his life and her family is also going to live with this too. It's unfortunate, but my prayers and sympathies go out to all the parties and families involved.

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4southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

13 years does not seem a just sentence...

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5USMC0331(152 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Just take responsibility for your actions. That's all. Don't say you don't feel responsible when you clearly tried to show off jerking the wheel left and then right before you wrecked. It was a stupid decision and a mistake. Own up to it!!

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6kk80586(229 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

jerrie--don't be such a racist. It does not matter that he is white. I would be in jail under the same circumstances and I am white. Either (A) he has big money -OR- (B) he personally knows someone high up in the community -OR- (C) the most likely reason is that this area likes to see murderers out on the street as soon and as much as possible. I don't know if it is left leaning, liberal, democrat judges or what but even most murderers (and the cases I have seen were BLAQ perps) get plea deals down to manslaughter, serve a couple years, then get out and murder someone else... nice try though.

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