Man, 28, pleads guilty, will be sentenced in late August

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


A city man charged with possession of heroin after a traffic stop where he fought a police dog likely will spend two years in prison — if he can stay out of trouble until his August sentencing date.

Robert Kelly Jr., 28, of Mistletoe Avenue, appeared Thursday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for a pretrial hearing. He is charged with possession of drugs, improper handling of a firearm and obstructing official business.

Kelly opted to enter into an agreement with prosecutors where he pleaded guilty to those charges.

J. Michael Thompson, an assistant county prosecutor, and Atty. Ross Smith, representing Kelly, have an agreed-upon sentence of two years on all the charges. Kelly will be sentenced Aug. 20.

Judge Krichbaum, during the hearing, told Kelly he is likely to adopt the recommended two-year sentence if he remains free of trouble until his sentencing date. The judge made it clear that any infraction between now and the sentencing date could land Kelly in prison for more than 10 years.

Kelly told the judge he did not want to go immediately to sentencing and could avoid any trouble until he returns to court in August.

“There will be a lot of people who will know what my situation is and will try to come at me, but I can conduct myself appropriately,” he told the judge. “I just want to be out there as much as possible with my son.”

Officer Michael Anderson and his canine partner, Ninja, were doing routine patrol at 2:30 a.m. Feb. 27 near the Mahoning Avenue ramp to Interstate 680 when a Chevrolet Malibu was spotted speeding on the freeway and driving outside the marked lanes.

Anderson conducted a traffic stop on the car just past the Market Street exit. Inside the car was Kelly, the driver, who police describe as acting nervous, and one passenger.

The traffic stop was uneventful until Anderson asked Kelly to step out of the car so that Ninja could sniff the car. Kelly, reportedly, refused to submit to a pat-down search, and when Anderson attempted to place handcuffs on Kelly, he began to fight.

Anderson reported that Kelly shoved him into the drive lane on the interstate and then began running. The officer said Kelly was holding what he believed to be a gun in his right hand.

Anderson released Ninja from the back seat of the cruiser. Ninja caught up to Kelly as he ran and leaped on the man, knocking the object from his hand and Kelly to the ground.

Anderson reports that Ninja and Kelly both hurried to their feet and the dog attempted to leap at Kelly again, but Kelly hit the dog with a right hook. Kelly and Ninja fell to the ground with Ninja wrapped between Kelly’s legs and Kelly repeatedly punching the dog.

Anderson separated Kelly and the dog, but Kelly reportedly made a movement and Ninja grabbed hold of his pant leg, tearing it from Kelly’s trousers.

The object that flew out of Kelly’s hand in the scuffle with Ninja was found to be a cellphone, but Anderson and several other officers responding to the scene found a loaded handgun under the front passenger seat of the car and a duffel bag in the backseat filled with suspected heroin.

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