Helena couple charged with child abuse denied bond reduction
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
COLUMBIANA–A Helena couple that was arrested on Nov. 14, 2016 and charged with aggravated family child abuse after allegedly torturing, willfully abusing and maltreating their 14-year-old adopted son have been denied a bond reduction and the charges will be bound over to a grand jury, as a result of a preliminary hearing the afternoon of Feb. 8.
Defense attorneys for Richard Hobson Kelly and Cynthia Rogers Kelly seeked a reduction to the bond of $1 million each against both defendants but was ultimately denied by Shelby County District Judge Daniel Crowson. The couple will remain in the Shelby County Jail.
Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar during a press conference held at Helena City Hall on Nov. 15, 2016 said, “For many of them (police officers), this is the most disturbing case that they have seen in their careers.”
Folmar was present at the Feb. 8 preliminary hearing to testify and recount what he saw last November.
Folmar said he first received the call about the case the morning of Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 and was told that the 14-year-old victim had been originally admitted to Shelby Baptist Medical Center and after a short time there, the victim was airlifted to Children’s Hospital and the Shelby County Department of Human Resources was contacted soon after.
Folmar conducted a number of interviews that included the adoptive parents, admitting doctors, siblings of the victim and family friends.
During one of the interviews Folmar had with Cynthia Kelly, Cynthia confirmed the 14-year-old boy and his biological brother were adopted and had been living with the Kelly’s since 2006 or 2007 at their home address in the 3000 block of Spruce Drive in Helena. The couple received about $500 a month from the department of human resources to help take care of the boys.
While testifying, Folmar said Cynthia admitted that there were behavioral issues with both brothers and Cynthia used the phrase “Honestly I’m just tired of dealing with it,” when Folmar asked her about the issues.
When asked to describe the 14-year-old victim’s living conditions, Folmar said upon investigation, the child stayed in a room in the lower portion of the house that included a “concrete floor, box spring, an algebra book, a strip of fly paper hanging from the ceiling, a dart board and a white board hanging on the wall.” In addition, Folmar confirmed there were two locks located on the outside of the door to secure the victim inside the room and the teen’s clothing was kept in plastic drawers with diapers outside the room.
After interviewing Cynthia, Folmar said he drove to Children’s Hospital to interview the victim’s adoptive father, Richard.
Folmar said he asked Richard about the child and if he went to a regular doctor to which Richard allegedly said, “he hasn’t seen one in a couple of years.”
A week prior to the teen being admitted to the hospital, Folmar said Richard said his son was showing signs of weakness and was shaky and couldn’t walk.
At the hospital, Folmar said doctors confirmed the victim sustained injuries including severe chronic malnourishment, shock, acute respiratory distress, hypothermia and hypothyroid disease. The victim weighed 47 pounds and had a core body temperature of 86 degrees and was a mere three hours away from death.
Folmar said he questioned Richard about the feeding habits of the teen and the room the boy was kept in and Richard said the boy was “usually fed separately from the rest of the family about once a day and on average the boy was kept in the room 23 hours a day.”
When Folmar asked how long the teen’s current living situation and isolation had gone on, Richard said “about two years.”
Richard told Folmar a camera had also been installed in the room pointing at the box spring to make the teen think he was being monitored, but the camera had not been functional for some time.
Despite the alleged dire conditions of the teen boy’s living situation, Folmar confirmed the victim was homeschooled and was actually performing well, according to school records.
Defense attorneys for the Kelly’s were adamant that the $1 million bond was well above the bond schedule amount for a Class B felony.
“This bond is 30 times the maximum bond schedule and is grossly excessive,” attorney Jared Welborn, who represents Richard Kelly said.
Defense attorneys also argued that both defendants do not have any prior felony or misdemeanor arrests and have been residents of Shelby County for several years and this should be taken into account when considering a bond reduction.
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