Michigan psychologist Robert Kelly pleads guilty to killing his daughter with a baseball bat

June 22, 2012

Sparing his family members what could’ve been a trial with gruesome testimony, a 53-year-old psychologist pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the baseball bat beating death of his sleeping 20-year-old daughter last year.

The case has mystified observers ever since Robert Kelly of Oxford Village stepped into his daughter’s bedroom to beat her about the head as she slept, then walked a few blocks to the village police station at 8 a.m. to confess his actions, police said.

Seconds earlier, the police dispatcher had sent medical technicians to Kelly’s home after the victim’s mother Julie Roberts found their daughter, 20, bleeding profusely from the head, Chief Michael Neymanowski said at the time.

“I asked him if he knew who did it,” police dispatcher Tony Van Houten testified. “And he stated, ‘Yes, I did.’-”

But investigators were stumped. They could never find a motive for the incident on Glaspie Street.

Kelly made the guilty plea before Oakland County Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols in exchange for the court dropping a first-degree murder charge, allowing Kelly to be eligible for parole after 20 years, defense attorney Sanford Schulman of Detroit said.

“I’ve handled over 60 murder cases and this is the strangest one,” Schulman said Wednesday night. Kelly had a history of depression but had never had serious mental illness, although Schulman had an expert testify that Kelly was “unable to distinguish right from wrong on the night he did this” in May 2011, Schulman said.

Still, a forensic examination found Kelly competent to stand trial.

Kelly’s ex-wife was living in the house with them, and Kelly walked past his ex-wife’s bedroom to the room of his only child, then beat Megan Roberts so badly with the bat that the young woman was in a coma for more than two months before she died at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, according to police.

Kelly was a licensed Michigan psychologist who had worked as a therapist, Schulman said.

“From what we can tell, he loved his daughter deeply. They were very close. It was like something in him snapped. So, that’s why this plea deal seemed appropriate,” he said.

Source: "Oxford Village psychologist pleads guilty in beating-death of daughter," Detroit Free Press, June 20, 2012.


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