Recorded in 2011, prosecutors say Ricky Kelly bragged in prison about the killing of LaJaunte Jackson. Six years later, Kelly plead guilty to manslaughter charges.
“I've had a lot of cases but nothing quite like Ricky Kelly,” Leland Hulbert, former lead prosecutor, saidHulbert was one of the prosecutors on Kelly's case in 2014. Police have linked Kelly to eight different homicides dating back to the 1990s.
Those charges have since been dropped, except for the 2005 shooting death of LaJaunte Jackson. Days before Kelly was set to go to trial, he reached a deal.
“I would say a fine wine gets better with age and cases do not,” Hulbert said.
By pleading to a lesser charge of manslaughter, Kelly will avoid the death penalty and now faces a 10-year sentence. Kelly has been in custody since 2006 for other charges.
“It may seem low to some but his attorneys did a good job at pointing out the holes in the case,” Hulbert said.
One major hole in the case: the prosecution's key witness, Gregory Sawyer, was killed in July 2013. Hulbert says that coupled with old evidence and retired detectives would've made this a tough trial.“I think it would've been difficult but it would've been an interesting trial to watch to see what happened. The fact that they met in the middle on a plea deal is not surprising,” Hulbert said.
In a statement from the Commonwealth's attorney's office, Kelly will stay in prison until he is at least 53 years old.
Kelly will not be eligible for parole until he serves 85 percent of this sentence.