Man gets 5 years for killing father

Dale C. Kelly

A family sat divided by a courtroom aisle Thursday morning, some there on behalf of the 82-year-old man shot to death in his home two years ago and some there to support the son who pulled the trigger.

Dale Kelly, 49, fired three rounds from a 20-gauge shotgun through his bedroom door at his father's North Charleston home on Aug. 31, 2009. Creighton Kelly died from his wounds about a half-hour later.

Police initially charged the younger Kelly with murder, but he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter earlier this year. He appeared in court Thursday for his sentencing, facing a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Circuit Judge Thomas Hughston sentenced him to 10 years, suspended to five years in prison and five years on probation. Kelly must serve 85 percent of the five years so, even with time served in jail, he will spend at least four years behind bars.

Dale Kelly's first cousin, Allison Kelly, said Dale wanted $700 and that her uncle wouldn't give it to him. She also disputed her cousin's previous claim that he didn't realize his father was standing on the other side of the closed door when he blasted through it.

Allison Kelly noted that her cousin, a local musician, continued working in a bar while the rest of the family waited for this day.

"He has been allowed to live and do and continue as he has his whole life," she said. "With no consequences."

Describing a man who abuses alcohol and who killed her uncle in a "fit of anger," she asked for the full 15 years. Kelly's criminal history includes two prior DUI convictions, according to prosecutors.

Dale Kelly's attorney, Frank Cornely, said he had not heard before Thursday anything about $700. Following the sentencing, Cornely said his client shot at the door when it became stuck and he grew frustrated, not knowing his father stood on the other side of it.

Another lawyer who helped the Kellys with a real estate transaction described the close friendship between the father and his only son.

"When I heard about this, you could have told me Beaver Cleaver shot Ward Cleaver," Michael Mitchum said.

Dale Kelly's wife, who also lived in Creighton Kelly's home, said her husband no longer eats or sleeps properly and he rarely fishes. That's because, as Dale Kelly then told the judge, he used to fish with his father.

Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or on Twitter at @allysonjbird.