Judge gives hope with new sen­tence

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - BY JACK EVANS Times Staff Writer

He was a teen when he was sent to jail for life. Now 44, he can be out in two years.

DADE CITY — Nearly three decades af­ter he be­gan serv­ing life in prison, Christo­pher Kelly learned Fri­day that he could go free in two years.

Kelly, 44, ap­peared in court to get a new sen­tence for a crime he com­mit­ted as a teenager: rob­bing a man, beat­ing him un­con­scious and leav­ing him on the train tracks to die. U.S. Supreme Court rul­ings from the past decade about ju­ve­nile sen­tenc­ing led to the pro­ceed­ing.

Pasco-Pinel­las Cir­cuit Judge Su­san Barthle gave him what his at­tor­ney and the prose­cu­tor had agreed on: 65 years in prison, plus five years of pro­ba­tion. With his time served and gain time — credit given for good be­hav­ior or work in prison, for ex­am­ple — he’ll be el­i­gi­ble to leave prison as soon as June 2020.

Kelly was 15 in the sum­mer of 1989, when he and two friends beat a man un­con­scious out­side a La­coochee bar, took the $14 he had on him and left him

Christo­pher Kelly

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