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Mom denies slain man’s involvement with drugs

Carlos Kelly was killed with a wooden board, document says.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:30 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Although Columbia police say the beating death of Carlos Kelly last week was drug-related, the victim’s mother said Monday that her son did not seem to be involved with drugs since his release from prison last fall.

Kelly’s mother, Mary Kelley, said her son did not appear to have much money since he was released from Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center on Oct. 5, 2000, where he served a five-year sentence for first-degree property damage.

“If he was dealing drugs again, why was he broke?” Kelley asked.

Kelly’s stepfather, Leroy Bennett, said Kelly came to him for small loans from time to time. Bennett said he lent Kelly $300 toward the purchase of a $600 Cadillac that had been impounded and belonged to one of Kelly’s friends.

Meanwhile, a probable cause statement filed Sunday in Boone County Circuit Court revealed more details about how Kelly died. The statement asserts that Travis Midgyett, 27, used a “wooden board of substantial size” to kill Kelly, 34, with a blow to the back of the head.

Columbia police found Kelly dead in his triplex apartment in the 1300 block of Cynthia Drive on Wednesday morning. They arrested Midgyett, Rodney Cunningham, 30, and Felson Barney, 29, over the weekend on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in connection with Kelly’s death.

Barney and Midgyett were being held in the Boone County Jail on bonds of $1 million Monday night. Cunningham was being held in the Boone County Jail on a $1.5 million bond.

Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson said the attack began when assailants barged into Kelly’s apartment brandishing a handgun. Nelson said four people were in the apartment with Kelly during the attack. Their names have not been released.

According to the probable cause statement, Midgyett was carrying the gun and used it to hit one of the people in the house in the head. Then he handed the gun to Barney in order to free his hands so he could strike Kelly with the board, the statement said.

Barney then handed the gun to Cunningham and stabbed one of the people in the apartment with a knife, and Barney also struck that man in the back of the head with a flashlight, the statement said. Police have withheld the name of the stabbing victim, whom they described only as an 18-year-old man. He was treated at a Columbia hospital and released.

The attackers stole cash from Kelly and one other victim, the probable cause statement said. Nelson declined to comment on whether other items were stolen and said that no property had been recovered.

Nelson said it appeared to be a planned, “drug-related” attack, and the three assailants cut open furniture and did some damage to the apartment’s walls.

“It certainly looked as if they were looking for something,” Nelson said.

Nelson said the attackers knew Kelly but wouldn’t elaborate on how well they knew him or the nature of the relationship.

The Missourian reported that Kelly has been charged with several misdemeanor offenses, including drug possession and assault, since 1989.

Nelson said police are trying to identify a fourth person he believes participated in the attack and anticipate making another arrest in the future.

Police have not recovered the gun used in the attack, Nelson said. He declined to give a further description of the wooden board used to kill Kelly, or to say whether it was something the attackers had brought with them or found at the apartment.

The investigation began when police responded to a 911 call early Wednesday morning. The caller, who police have only identified as an “acquaintance” of Kelly’s, reported that she and Kelly had been beaten and robbed.

When police arrived at the apartment, Nelson said, they found Kelly lying dead on the floor. Police later tracked down and interviewed the four witnesses, Nelson said.

Cunningham and Midgyett were first arrested after a brief standoff with Columbia police, on charges unrelated to the homicide Thursday. On Sunday, they were taken to the Columbia Police Department, re-interviewed, and arrested on charges related to the homicide at the conclusion of those interviews, Nelson said.

Barney was arrested Saturday afternoon after he agreed to go to the Columbia Police Department late Saturday morning for questioning.

Missourian reporter Chris Paul contributed to this report.


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