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Jury recommends 10-year sentence for grandparent attack

He was acquitted of murder conspiracy.

Brian Kelley court camera video

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A Boone County jury recommended a decade in prison Friday for a man convicted of assaulting his grandparents.

Brian Kelley, 20, was convicted late Thursday of domestic assault but acquitted on charges of conspiracy to murder his grandparents. A Boone County judge will make the final decision on the sentence next month.

Jurors deliberated for several hours Friday morning to determine his sentence after hearing victim impact statements, initially telling the judge they were unable to reach a consensus. Jurors later returned a sentence of 10 years on a felony domestic assault charge and one year in jail apiece on two misdemeanor domestic assault counts.

Kelley was convicted Thursday after a two-day trial of first-degree domestic assault for attacking his grandfather and two misdemeanor assault charges for hurting his grandmother. Authorities said Kelley had tried to strangle one of them and swung a metal pipe at them during the attack last December. They used wasp spray to fight Kelley off and then held him at gunpoint, according to official accounts of the incident.

Prosecutors cited as evidence of the murder conspiracy Facebook messages between Kelley and co-defendant Jared Bears. In the messages Kelley writes that he had already killed his grandparents, though they were still alive. Kelley said on the stand the messages were part of a "fantasy" and that he never intended to kill his grandparents.

Kelley's attorney, Stephen Wyse, said he will seek a mistrial. Wyse said the judge gave jurors incorrect instructions on the first day of the trial after prosecutors filed a new charging document with second-degree assault instead of first-degree assault. 

Prosecutor Sue Boresi said the error did not affect the outcome.

"I think the judge made the correct rulings of law, I think the evidence was fairly introduced and I'm not concerned about the verdict being overturned," Boresi said after the case.

Bears was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is on the run after apparently disabling his GPS monitoring device.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to reflect that a judge will make the final determination on the sentence.


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