Man pleads not guilty in slaying

Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:23 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

One of three men charged in connection with the slaying of Carlos Kelly in late March pleaded not guilty to first-degree robbery and second-degree murder in court on Monday.

Felson Barney, 29, waived formal arraignment and made the plea, the first by any of the three suspects arrested in connection with the slaying. The other suspects, Travis Midgyett, 26, and Rodney Cunningham, 30, were in the Boone County Jail on Tuesday awaiting court appearances.

Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton denied a request by Barney’s attorney, Amy O’Keefe, to ban videotaping in the courtroom.

O’Keefe also asked Hamilton for a change of venue for jury selection. Hamilton asked O’Keefe and assistant prosecuting attorney Dan Knight to provide 10 locations each for jury selection.

Barney was being held in Boone County Jail on Tuesday on a bond of $1 million, as was Midgyett. Cunningham was also being held in jail, but on a $1.5 million bond that included charges not related to the homicide.

Police found Kelly, 34, dead in his Cynthia Drive apartment on the morning of March 29. An autopsy report revealed that Kelly died from a blow to the head. Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson said police interviewed four witnesses who said they were in the apartment when the crime occurred. One of the witnesses had suffered a stab wound to the leg.

Police arrested Barney on April 1, and Midgyett and Cunningham on April 2. Police charged each with first-degree robbery and second-degree murder.

In a probable cause statement filed in April, police said Midgyett was carrying a handgun when the three men forced their way into Kelly’s residence. According to the statement, Midgyett handed the gun to Barney so he would have his hands free to hit Kelly in the head with a wooden board. Barney, in turn, handed the gun to Cunningham so he would have his hands free to hit one of the people who were in the apartment in the head with a flashlight and stab the person several times in the leg, the statement said.

Columbia police Capt. Brad Nelson called the homicide “drug-related.”

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