Father found guilty in toddler’s death

Kevin Christopher Kelly of Manassas was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment about 11:30 a.m. today in the death of his 21-month-old daughter.

The jury will next make a recommendation on what Kelly’s sentence should be. Combined, the maximum punishment for both counts would total 15 years in jail. The defense brought nine witnesses before a lunch break was called. More defense witnesses are expected before the jury retires to deliberate Kelly’s fate.

Today was the third day of Kelly’s trial. Prosecutors brought witnesses who described hyperthermia, possible effects of heat in an enclosed space upon a toddler, as well as the physical needs and capabilities of his daughter, 21-month-old Frances Kelly.

Two young neighbors also testified that on three separate occasions during the past three summers, they found one of the young Kelly children shut in the family van. Defense attorneys argued that Frances’ death was a tragic accident, but not a crime.

The jury deliberated about five hours before returning with the verdict. In a back row of the court room, Kelly’s wife, Mary, began to cry, as one of her young daughters crept into her arms.

Charges were filed against Kelly after a neighbor discovered the youngest of Kelly’s 13 children locked inside the family van May 29. Temperatures inside the van are estimated to have reached about 120 degrees Fahrenheit that day.

Staff writer Maria Hegstad can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 121.

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