- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kevin Kelly was so sure his estranged wife was having an affair that he drove from New Jersey to a suburban Washington church with a gun one Sunday to confront the other man.

He didn’t find the supposed boyfriend that day, but he shot and killed his wife in the church parking lot.

Friends and family of Patricia Simmons Kelly said there was no other man, but Kelly insisted she was unfaithful even as a judge sentenced him Friday to life in prison without parole.

Kelly, 53, admitted shooting his wife Feb. 22 outside People’s Community Baptist Church. However, he told a jury the killing was not premeditated.

Jurors did not believe him and convicted Kelly of first-degree murder last month after deliberating for less than an hour.

Kelly said he had expected to confront “Junebug,” the nickname he used to refer to the boyfriend he believed his wife had. But Mrs. Kelly came to church that Sunday morning with only her daughter.

“Nobody wants to face the reality of Junebug and the love triangle,” Kelly said during a lengthy courtroom speech that was by turns apologetic and accusatory. “She did have a boyfriend. That is true; it’s a fact.”

The day of the murder, Kelly had driven from New Jersey after leaving the couple’s home in Maryland a few days before. He waited for his wife inside the church. When he saw her, he asked her to go talk. Outside, he fired five shots at her. He was arrested at the scene.

In giving Kelly the maximum possible sentence, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Terrence J. McGann called Kelly a “self-absorbed, egocentric murderer” and said his actions were methodical and well-planned.

Several of Mrs. Kelly’s friends quietly cheered and cried when Judge McGann handed down the sentence.

Kelly’s lawyer, Gary Gerstenfield, said he would appeal.

Kelly’s voice broke several times Friday as he ran through a list of people to apologize to that included Mrs. Kelly’s brother, Arthur Simmons, and her daughter, 17-year-old Iesha Jennings.

“I apologize to her for taking her mom, who was also her best friend, away from her,” he said of Iesha, who was not in the courtroom. “I’m so, so sorry.”

Mr. Simmons, 51, of Powder Springs, Ga., was the only family member to address the court. Iesha now lives with him and his wife.

“I just wanted to say to Kevin, I thought you was a better man than you turned out to be,” he said.

Kelly said his wife’s absence had caused him pain, too.

“Every night before I cry myself to sleep,” he said, “I blow kisses up to heaven, hoping they would touch your lips.”

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