Kelly found guilty of murder

By Dave O’Brien | Record-Courier staff writer

After a little more than eight hours of deliberations over

two days, a Portage County Common Pleas Court jury found

Ronald G. Kelly guilty Friday of killing 23-year-old Kent

State University student Christopher M. Kernich.

The jury returned a split verdict on all five charges

against the 20-year-old: Guilty of felonious assault,

guilty of felony murder and guilty of misdemeanor assault

against Kernich’s friend, Bradley Chelko. Kelly was found

not guilty of murder and not guilty of the assault on

Kernich’s friend David Clements.

Felony murder occurs when a victim dies as the proximate

result of someone committing a felony — in this case,

felonious assault. Kelly was found not guilty of murder, or

“purposely causing the death of another,” according to Ohio


Like co-defendant Adrian A. Barker, 21, who was convicted

April 23 in Kernich’s murder and is scheduled to be

sentenced Tuesday in Judge John Enlow’s courtroom, Kelly

faces 15 years to life in prison.

In November 2009, Kelly and Barker got into an altercation

with Kernich and his friends after a night out at a

fraternity party in Kent.

The altercation ended when Barker knocked Kernich

unconscious with one punch and then joined Kelly in

stomping Kernich in the head as he lay motionless on East

Main Street, prosecutors said. The defense claimed the

event was witnessed by intoxicated students who

misidentified Kernich’s assailants during the course of a

botched Kent Police Department investigation.

Several members of Kelly’s family sobbed as the verdicts

were read. Asked to comment on the verdict, defense

attorney Gregory S. Robey said he respected the jury’s

decision but was “obviously disappointed.”

“I will never give them the gift of surrender,” he said,

vowing to appeal the conviction. “This fight will carry on.

We will keep fighting until his name is clear.”

After the verdicts were read, Robey filed verbal motions to

acquit Kelly on all charges and made a motion for a new

trial. Enlow reserved ruling on both motions for a later


Assistant Portage County Prosecutors Tom Buchanan and

Connie Lewandowski, who prosecuted the case, were

unavailable for comment after the verdict. A message

seeking comment on the verdict was left after hours at the

office of Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci.

Kernich’s family and friends left the courtroom without


Kelly will remain incarcerated in the Portage County jail

pending sentencing, which will follow a pre-sentence

investigation by the Portage County Adult Probation


The trial of alleged co-defendant Glenn P. Jefferson Jr., a

21-year-old Mentor man who was with Barker and Kelly the

night of Kernich’s assault, is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

Tuesday in Judge Laurie Pittman’s courtroom. He is charged

with two third-degree felony counts of obstructing justice

for lying to police and a Portage County grand jury

investigating the case.

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