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.
permission of the Record-Courier