Prosecution says baby boy suffered multiple fractures, but was able to recover
By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer
Connor Paul Kelly, 32, of Ocean Pines, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in Worcester County Circuit Court last Friday for the abuse, assault and neglect of his infant son in 2021.
On March 15, a jury found Kelly guilty of second-degree child abuse, three counts of second-degree assault and neglect of a minor.
Judge Beau Oglesby gave Kelly the maximum sentence for each crime; 25 years for a repeated second-degree child abuse offense that was merged with one of the second-degree assault counts, two 10-year sentences for the remaining counts of second-degree assault and five years for neglect of a minor. All the sentences are to be served consecutively.
The judge gave Kelly credit for 785 days he has already served in jail.
The offenses took place between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15, 2021, according to the Maryland Case Search. That was when, state prosecutor Pamela Correa told the court, Kelly abused his son while on probation for a 2018 second-degree child abuse conviction he received for trying to smother his four-month-old daughter with a blanket in 2017. His daughter recovered.
Oglesby issued an arrest warrant for Kelly on March 24, 2021, which was served on March 25, 2021.
Before sentencing, prosecutors argued that the maximum sentence was the only way to protect society at large, saying that Kelly had demonstrated a pattern of violence and never showed remorse or took responsibility.
Prosecutor Mary-Ann Burkhart was also present, but Correa led the presentation.
“The defendant displays what I would describe as a God complex, or perhaps more accurately the son of God complex,” Correa said at the hearing.
As evidence, Correa read text messages between Kelly and his children’s mother, in which Kelly describes his and his children’s enormous energy and power, posting in the chain a Wikipedia page about “Nephilim,” or beings that are of God and angels, and comparing them to his children.
Correa also provided the court a transcript of a phone call Kelly had in jail with his mother in May 2021, in which he said the state cannot do this to a “son of God.”
“This is concerning to the state your honor. The concern is not one of spirituality. It is that he is using that to refrain from accepting responsibility for his actions,” Correa said.
The judge decided not to play the call in court.
Correa said that if Kelly had the chance to have more children, the state would have no power to intervene until they were injured. They noted that the mixture of healing and freshly broken bones in Kelly’s son suggested a continuing course of abuse in the first few weeks of his son’s life.
“His failure to acknowledge what he is doing means that he will not recognize if he hurts another child,” Correa said.
Prosecutors pointed to Kelly’s criminal record and lengthy history of mental health problems, which included his being bi-polar and experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations, to suggest that he would offend again if he had the opportunity. Correa also suggested that some of Kelly’s recent struggles with hallucinations were feigned.
Kelly was represented by Attorney Andrew Jezic and Anders Randrup III, who was co-counsel.
Jezic acknowledged Kelly’s mental health struggles, hoping the court would give him a split sentence and asked that probation only begin after Kelly’s parole ends.
“He (Kelly) recognizes with his mental health history, which is deep and sincere and longstanding, that he does want supervision from the court when he is eventually released,” Jezic said.
The defense said examples of Kelly’s God complex and some of the startling correspondence with family were all based in his mental health issues.
Kelly’s family and the defense said Kelly had mentioned in years past that he had caused certain forest fires with his mind, and that he thought an alligator killed a child in Disney World in 2016 because of Kelly’s own sins. The Kelly family had visited Disney world just before the incident occurred.
“Ultimately we are asking your honor to keep in mind and fashion a sentence, that this is a person who has suffered from persistent, serious mental illness from the time he was a very young adult,” Jezic said.
Jezic noted that aside from the incident with his son, Kelly had been compliant with his community service during probation and remained peaceful through these processes.
“He (Kelly) is someone who can control himself to an extent,” Jezic said.
Defense also said that Kelly was acquitted of the most serious felonies in the case and that among the convicted felonies there was no evidence of intent.
Although Jezic argued that facts of the case show Kelly’s son has fully recovered, Oglesby pointed out that may not be true, referencing earlier testimony from the mother’s side of the family, which said that medical research suggests the child could face life-long health consequences.
Members of Kelly’s family gave statements to the judge prior to sentencing, including his father, Paul Kelly, of Ocean City.
“I won’t apologize for my faith. Yes, I do tell my son we are very religious, there is a lot of that God factor, they’re exactly right. We do believe in faith, that’s where that stems from,” Paul Kelly said. “There is a strong guilt feeling that he has in his actions that he takes on and he takes blame for things. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. That’s why we’re here again today, because he’s taken blame for something that didn’t necessarily happen. We have our own opinions.”
He asked the judge to show mercy in the sentencing, saying the families, both the mother’s side and Kelly’s side, were being ripped apart.
“Hopefully there’s some good that turns out of all this bad, that’s what my faith tells me,” Paul Kelly said.
Jezic told the judge that although he advised Connor Kelly not to speak, the defendant still wanted to make a statement to the judge.
Kelly told the judge he loves his son and his two daughters, that they are the first thoughts in his head in the morning and his last thoughts at night.
“I don’t know what the plan is here that God’s got going on, but I have to trust him,” Kelly said.
Breaking down into tears, Kelly told the judge again that he loves his son.
Oglesby then took a recess and returned with the sentence.
The judge told Kelly that these allegations were proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and that these serious offenses demonstrate a pattern of abuse within a brief period of time.
“I do endorse the idea that history is a fair prediction of the future,” Oglesby said.
The judge said the X-ray of the infant son’s broken arm shown during trial was one of the most grotesque he’d ever seen.
“On one side of the courtroom is a group of people whose instinct is to protect their son, and on the other side of the courtroom is a group of individuals whose instinct is to protect their son,” Oglesby said in reference to Kelly’s family occupying one side of the court, and the mother’s family occupying the other side.
Oglesby said that Circuit Court Judge Brian Shockley, who oversaw Kelly’s previous child-abuse conviction, had granted a considerable amount of mercy with the focus of rehabilitation.
“Your behavior and what you did to your son doesn’t mean that you don’t love your son … the court finds that it does mean that you cannot be trusted in a community, that society is not a safer place when you are in it,” Oglesby said.
The judge asked Kelly to stand and read him his sentence.