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MCAO News Releases

Posted on: July 6, 2011

Gary Kelley Sentenced To 27.5 Years For A 2010 Racially Charged Incident

(PHOENIX, AZ) July 6, 2011 – Gary Thomas Kelley, 51 ( DOB: 08/16/1959 ) has been sentenced for the Second Degree Murder of a neighbor Juan Varela and Aggravated Assault on Juan’s brother Antonio.

The incident took place on May 6th, 2010 when the defendant came out of his home in the 6400 block of South Montezuma Street in Phoenix. He walked two houses south where he approached the victim. As he walked Kelly continued to yell racial slurs and warned Juan to go back to Mexico. Juan’s brother, Antonio, walked toward the two men until all were in front of a mutual neighbor’s home. At some point Juan kicked at the defendant but made no direct contact. Kelly then removed a .38 caliber revolver from his waistband and pointed it at Juan and Antonio. The defendant fatally shot Juan in the chin/neck.

A neighbor called Phoenix Police who responded within 2 minutes to the scene. The police report indicated that following the shooting the defendant returned to his home. Officers ordered the defendant to come out of his home. Within minutes Kelly was observed exiting the house with 2 bottles of beer. He drank one and poured the other over his head. Kelly was taken into custody. He told officers he had been attacked and was kicked in his testicles forcing him to defend himself by shooting the victim. A subsequent examination of Kelly didn’t show any injury to his groin area. The defendants blood was drawn approximately seven and a-half hours later and showed his blood alcohol concentration to be 0.084. A retrograde calculation was performed and indicated that at the time of the shooting the blood alcohol concentration would have been between 0.126 and 0.286.

After a 6-day jury trial, the defendant was found guilty on all counts as charged. At today’s hearing Judge Susan Brnovich sentenced Gary Kelley to 20-years for the Murder and 7.5 years for the Aggravated Assault to be served consecutively. The 20 year sentence is flat time and must be completed in its entirety prior to the 7.5 year sentence which Kelley must complete 85% of, or 6.3 years, prior to being eligible for release. Kelly would be in his late 70’s before he would be eligible for release from prison.

“Violence against fellow members of our community is unacceptable,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Violence motivated by the ignorance of racism will be met with a just sentence as today’s proceeding illustrates.”

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