- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

MANASSAS Kevin Kelly should have known better than to leave 21-month-old Frances, the youngest of his 13 children, locked in his van for seven hours on a hot spring day, Commonwealth Attorney Paul B. Ebert told a jury yesterday.
"That child did not have to die," Mr. Ebert said. "This child, from the evidence, went through a period of hell."
A jury of six women and seven men deliberated three hours last night in a Prince William County Circuit Court and was scheduled to return this morning to decide whether Mr. Kelly, 46, was guilty of involuntary manslaughter or reckless endangerment in connection with the child's death.
If found guilty on both charges, he could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Mr. Kelly's attorneys called no witnesses yesterday because, they said, there was no proof their client intentionally neglected the child.
"There is no evidence that Mr. Kelly did anything so gross, so wanton, so culpable of disregard of human life," said defense lawyer Carroll A. Weimer Jr. Mr. Kelly sat behind him with his hands quivering in his lap.
At the end of yesterday's proceedings, Mr. Kelly's wife, Mary, and a Catholic priest knelt beside him and put their arms across his shoulders.
The last prosecution witness, Dr. Robin Foster, a pediatrics specialist and University of Virginia College of Medicine professor, described how the toddler likely suffered.
"A child of that age, because of their limited mobility, requires constant supervision," he said.
As the girl experienced the heat rising above her body temperature, she likely tried to get out of her car-seat strap, sweated profusely, cried and panted. Her heart beat rapidly, she vomited, then became lethargic, listless and fell into a coma, Dr. Foster said.
In response to Mr. Kelly's defense that he told three of his older children to take care of the three youngest ones that day, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Sandra Sylvester asked: "What kind of father points the finger of blame at his teenage kids? He blamed other children, victimized them just as he victimized her. This was no accident."
Prosecution witnesses testified that one of the young Kelly children was stuck in the family van three times in four years. However, the children were removed quickly.
On May 29, Mrs. Kelly and her oldest daughter were visiting relatives in Ireland. Mr. Kelly and the other children were at home, and the van was parked along the curb at 12:30 p.m. The temperature was in the mid-80s.
About 7 p.m., neighbors Joan and Brian McIver went for their evening walk and saw the child in the car seat. They thought she was asleep, so Mr. McIver went to the door to tell the family.
Anthony Kelly, 17, grabbed the keys, ran to the van, climbed in and almost got sick, Mrs. McIver testified.
Resuscitation efforts failed. An hour and 45 minutes later, the child's body temperature was 105.7 degrees.
Mr. McIver said orange, crusty foam was oozing from the child's nose and mouth, her legs and part of her head were purple and some of her skin was peeling.
The subsequent autopsy determined the child had died of hyperthermia.


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