Helena couple charged with child abuse plead guilty, submit application for probation

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – A Helena couple charged with aggravated family child abuse after torturing, willfully abusing and maltreating their then 14-year-old adopted son, have plead guilty to the charge but moved to reject the state’s recommendation for jail time and instead apply for probation, according to an order filed in Shelby County Circuit Court on Dec. 10.

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 Nov. 14, 2016 by the Helena Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and were charged with one count each of aggravated family child abuse.

Cynthia Kelly

The Kellys stood trial on Monday, Dec. 9, and prior to jury being selected, the defendants “entered a plea of guilty, rejected the state’s recommendation that the court impose the statutory maximum sentence of 10 years split to require service of a two-year, day-for-day sentence and made application for probation,” according to the order.

Following the probation application on Dec.10, The Shelby County Circuit Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation report be prepared. The sentencing hearing for the Kellys has been set for Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

According to their indictments filed in April 2017, the Kellys, “Did on or between Nov. 1, 2014, to Nov. 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 Circuit Court Judge William Bostick granted an order to amend their bail from $1 million to $100,000 each.