Washtenaw County judge dismisses charges of operating under the influence in fatal crash, but second-degree murder charge stands
Michael Kelly was in the midst of a psychotic episode when his vehicle crossed the median of US-23 and crashed into oncoming traffic, killing a man last spring, said his attorney, Andrew Abood. But Kelly was not under the influence of any drugs at the time.
A Washtenaw County district judge affirmed that argument, dismissing two felony counts of operating a vehicle while under the influence following a competency hearing in district court. But Kelly still faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter with a motor vehicle at his preliminary hearing on Dec. 17.
Authorities charged him in May after a lengthy investigation by the Michigan State Police into the March 12 crash that killed Brandon Rapp of Clay Township.
Police said Kelly was on southbound US-23 in Pittsfield Township when his Dodge Durango crossed the grassy median and crashed head-on into two vehicles shortly after 4 p.m. One was Rapp’s Chrysler LeBaron, which went airborne after impact, witnesses said. The 25-year-old recent Eastern Michigan University graduate died at the scene.
Abood wouldn’t provide many details about what occurred, but said Kelly is schizophrenic and his condition precipitated the crash. He hinted Kelly may have suffered from audio and visual effects of a schizophrenic psychosis while driving, and thus should not be charged with murder. He said he intends to use the insanity defense at trial, should the case get that far.
Doctors initially found Kelly not competent to stand trial, but after further treatment, his condition improved. Abood said part of the defense team’s goal was to get Kelly proper care while the case moves through the courts.
“Our concern was not so much whether he was competent or what he’d understand, it was about keeping him at the Forensic Center (of Psychiatry in York Township) where he could get treatment,” Abood said.
Kelly was a University of Michigan student at the time of the crash but is currently not enrolled.
Abood said it's unclear how long Kelly has suffered from mental illness, but the promising youth’s downward spiral began with his father’s death in December 2008. Kevin Kelly was the executive director of the Michigan State Medical Society after a lengthy career with the organization that began in 1979. He died at age 52 after a long illness.
Michael was very close with him and was involved with his father’s treatments.
“The process had a tremendous impact on him as he was involved in the treatments and at his bedside,” Abood said.
Kelly remains in custody and is undergoing treatment with medication and counseling between court dates.
Art Aisner is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2530.