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Posted on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Washtenaw County judge dismisses charges of operating under the influence in fatal crash, but second-degree murder charge stands

By Art Aisner

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 Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.


Andrew MacKie-Mason

Thu, Dec 2, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

@Roadmann: "The judge's identity is relevant for my purposes." And what exactly are those purposes? @Roadmann: "Judge Libby Pollard is a former assistant in Prosecutor Brian Mackie's office and Chris Easthope is a former criminal defense attorney with a reputation for being pro-defense. Julie Creal had no major background in criminal law as Easthope or Pollard prior to becoming a judge." Perhaps, but none of those judges were involved in this case.


Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 5:39 p.m.

@Andrew MacKie-Mason: I agree totally with your point as to why the prosecution felt they had any reason to charge him at all with the under the influence charge if there was no shred of proof of illegal drug use. From what I gather the chap apparently had an episode of disabling mental illness. Second-degree murder is a charge that involves depraved indifference to human life. It would mean that the driver had a wanton and willful disregard for life as he operated the vehicle. I assume the prosecution's theory was he knew he had a disabling condition but drove anyway and put the public at risk. The judge's identity is relevant for my purposes. Judge Libby Pollard is a former assistant in Prosecutor Brian Mackie's office and Chris Easthope is a former criminal defense attorney with a reputation for being pro-defense. Julie Creal had no major background in criminal law as Easthope or Pollard prior to becoming a judge.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 3:53 p.m.

@"Joe Citizen": "This irresponsible liberal garbage has got to stop." I'm not sure what you're calling "irresponsible liberal garbage", because the only liberal aspect of this story (the judge dismissing charges that apparently weren't strong enough to stick) seem perfectly responsible to me. So, what are you referring to?

Joe Citizen

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

@Chris-ypsilanti How dare you say he should be "released as soon as possible". That is the last thing that he or anyone else needs. Whether he is confined for criminal or mental reasons it doesn't matter. He is a danger to society in his current condition. Let it be your son or brother or father or even neighbor who was on the other side of the road that day and see what you think then. This irresponsible liberal garbage has got to stop. I'm not saying that he needs to be charged as a criminal but I am saying that his actions prove he is not safe to be out among us. The lack of a DUI or drugged driving charge only makes this argument stronger. If he is that unstable the state has a responsibility to keep him in a safe place where he won't hurt himself or anyone else.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 : 2:42 a.m.

This is a story that is a puzzle. There is a GIANT piece missing. Not a small piece, not a medium piece, but a BIG GIANT piece of the puzzle missing. While my deepest sympathy goes out to the family of the youngster that lost his life, Michael Kelly needs to get an expedited court date and be released as soon as posssible. Something is not right about him being held any further if the DUI charges were dismissed. If I were his Attorney I would be consulting with a Liability Attorney about splitting the funds after a major lawsuit.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 11:37 p.m.

@Roadman, Stephen Landes: I like how you're assuming that he *was* under the influence of drugs, and are demanding evidence that he wasn't. In case you've forgotten, our system works the other way around: the fact that someone is charged with something doesn't at all show that anything is true. What this story says is that the prosecution failed to establish even probable cause to believe he was using drugs. You should be demanding that the prosecution explain why they charged him, not demanding an explanation for why the charges were dropped. And why do you want to know the judge's name before you know that anything improper was done?

Stephen Landes

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 10:39 p.m.

We need to know who the judge is and why the operating under the influence charges were dropped. What drug(s) was this man using and why was he charged? We can never allow dismissals like this without finding out why. @Art Aisner -- what is the whole story?


Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

The story does not mention the name of the judge that dismissed the operating under the influence charges. Why would have he been charged in the first place if drugs were not involved? Did his physician allow him to operate a motor vehicle? Persons who have seizure disorders are forbidden to drive. If a doctor released him or failed to warn him against driving the patient should not be blamed. A sad story all around.

Michigan Reader

Tue, Nov 30, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

This is a tragedy for not only the victims, but also for Michael Kelly.