Murder

Attorney John Helmuth stands at left as Melissa Collins and her son Adrian Collins enter Madison Circuit Court for a status hearing Wednesday. Both are charged with murder and evidence tampering in the death of Ronnie L. Kelly who was shot to death in the Collinses’ apartment Oct. 31/Nov. 1.

Adrian Collins, 29, and his mother, Melissa Collins, 62, were scheduled to be tried Oct. 24 for the murder of Ronnie L. Kelly. But on Wednesday, Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue, agreed to let the prosecution and defense try to resolve the case through mediation.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith represented the state, while attorneys John Helmuth and Justin Hoskins represented the defendants during a Wednesday afternoon hearing.

Felony mediation is akin to negotiating a plea agreement, except that a specially appointed judge is an active participant who consults with and relays messages between opposing sides, explained Commonwealth’s Attorney David Smith.

Mediated agreements still require approval from a presiding judge.

The Collinses were arrested Nov. 1, after Kelly was shot to death in the apartment the mother and son shared on Turpin Drive, Richmond.

Richmond police charged Adrian Collins with murder and evidence tampering, but charged his mother only with evidence tampering.

In December, however, a Madison County grand jury indicted Melissa Collins on the same charges as her son.

Both hid a gun, shell casings and clothing with intent to impair their availability as evidence after Kelly was killed, according to the indictment.

Richmond Police Detective Matt Boyle found Kelly dead, shot in the head, early Nov. 1, according to testimony Detective Kyle Hurt gave in a Nov. 18 preliminary hearing. 

Based on blood splattering, the shot appeared to have been fired at close range. And an autopsy supported that assessment, Hurt said.

Melissa Collins told police she called 911 about two minutes after her son shot Kelly, Hurt testified. However, coagulated blood at the scene indicated the shooting took place significantly earlier. The splattered blood also was consistent with Melissa Collins being present when the shot was fired, the officer said.

After her earlier statement, Melissa Collins told police she may have lost consciousness for as much as an hour between the shooting and when she called 911. She also later admitted putting the gun used to shoot Kelly in a bag, Hurt said.

No blood was on a knife located near where the victim was found sitting, but there was blood under it, indicating it had been placed on top of the blood, Hurt explained.

According to his arrest citation, by the time police arrived, Adrian Collins had removed the shirt he was wearing when the shooting occurred, but dried blood was found on his hands and one foot.

Both Collinses have remained in the Madison County Detention Center since their arrests.

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