New trial date set for Helena couple charged with starving, torturing adopted son

Published 12:59 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A Helena couple charged with aggravated family child abuse after allegedly torturing, willfully abusing and maltreating their then 14-year-old adopted son are now set to stand trial on the charges in early November, according to an order filed in Shelby County Circuit Court.

Richard Kelly

Richard Hobson Kelly and Cynthia Rogers Kelly, who both list an address in the 3000 block of Spruce Drive in Helena, were arrested on Nov. 14, 2016 by the Helena Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and charged with one count each of aggravated family child abuse.

Cynthia Kelly

The Kellys were set to stand trial earlier this year, but the case was removed from the trial docket after an order was filed on March 18 by Circuit Court Judge William Bostick, citing the court did not anticipate reaching the case for jury trial the week of April 8.

The Kellys are now set to stand trial on the abuse charges in front of Bostick beginning on Nov. 4. The Kellys are set to appear in court for a pre-trial docket call on Sept. 23, followed by a court appearance for a plea date on Oct. 21.

The latest trial scheduling order also stated that if the case is not resolved during the November trial week, the defendants must be present on Monday, Dec. 9 for a jury trial. The trial will take place that day and each day thereafter until the case is tried, settled or until further order. Bostick also noted in the order that no continuances will be granted except for extreme circumstances.

According to their indictments filed in April 2017, the Kellys, “Did on or between November 1, 2014, to November 12, 2016, torture, willfully abuse, cruelly beat, or otherwise willfully maltreat said child over the period of two years in a closed off room in the basement with a locked door for 23 hours a day with limited to no access to social interaction; further, that was only allowed a box spring to sleep on; further, that was only fed one meal a day and that food and nourishment was withheld to the point that the victim was admitted on the date of Nov. 12, 2016, to the hospital suffering from extreme malnourishment, shock, hypothermia and dehydration to the point of near death and presented with abrasions on his knees, lips, ears and ankles, did such act which caused serious physical injury.”

At a press conference held at Helena City Hall on Nov. 15, 2016, Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar thanked the officers and investigators involved with the case and said, “For many of them, this is the most disturbing case that they have seen in their careers.”

After spending more than seven months in the Shelby County Jail, the Kellys were released on July 5, 2017, after Bostick granted an order to amend their bail from $1 million to $100,000 each.

Aggravated family child abuse is a Class B felony, and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison upon conviction, according to Alabama law.