By Randa Wagner
February 26, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 /4:45 p.m. - Cory Kelly was sentenced today for his role in the death of Joseph Rosella, and, before a courtroom packed with family, media personnel and law enforcement, named the person he alleges asked him to do it.
Before sentencing and under oath, Kelly answered questions for the prosecution.
“On the night of July 3, 2011, you went out to the Rosella residence, and accompanying you was a cousin, his friend and Devon Strader, is that correct?” asked Howland.
“Yes sir, that is,” said Kelly, and acknowledged that Strader got out of the vehicle as well.
When asked what Strader’s role was, Kelly responded, “Devon Strader didn’t do nothing; he stayed outside. He went up there with me, and that was it.”
“The autopsy report indicates the victim died of massive head injuries, but it also indicates that a sharp, bladed instrument was brought to bear,” Howland noted. “Do you know what that instrument was?”
“I have no clue,” answered Kelly, and said, “I wasn’t there” when asked if he knew who inflicted those wounds.
“In Deborah Wilson’s statement’s to the sheriff’s department, she states that Joe came home around 6 p.m. and went into his [attached] garage,” Howland recited. “Deborah Wilson has told the sheriff’s department when she got home, the door to the garage was locked. When the sheriff’s department arrives the next morning, there’s no sign of a forced entry into the garage where Joe Rosella was killed. How did you gain entry into the garage?”
“Deborah Wilson,” responded Kelly, Rosella’s common-law wife at the time of his death, describing how she came out of the garage and walked into the house, after which he went into garage.
“Was she surprised to see you?” Howland asked.
“No sir,” he said, explaining he was ‘asked to come over and ‘take care of him,’ referring to Rosella.
“Who said that to you?”
“Deborah Wilson,” he answered, adding he was asked to come over ‘due to her altercation with him at the time’ and ‘the way he was acting that night’ and to kill him.”
“And Deborah Wilson asked you to do that, is that correct?” Howland asked.
“Yes sir,” affirmed Kelly.
When the question of whether the crime was done ‘for hire,’ Defense Attorney Desmond interrupted, a bench conference was held and the question was dropped for the time being.
Judge Hickson credited 589 of 954 days served to the Kelly’s 15 year sentence, which was a sum of 11 years for voluntary manslaughter and 3 years for tampering with evidence. The prosecution only asked that the maximum sentence be imposed and that the terms were served consecutively. Desmond said the sentence and terms were a joint recommendation made after long negotiations.
No victim impact statements were received, which impacts restitution, but two oral statements were made. Joe Rosella’s daughter Carmella, and a niece, delivered emotional statements to Kelly, and asked the judge to give the maximum sentences allowed. Kelly offered a final statement on his own behalf.
“I’m truly sorry what happened, because I didn’t want for this to happen like this,” Kelly said. It wasn’t my intentions; I’m truly sorry,” he told the family. “I know you will never forgive me, and that’s your choice. But I really didn’t mean for this to happen. I did like Joe; Joe was a good guy - you’re right,” he continued. “He did help me alot. I wish I could take this back everyday. I losing so much for one night - it took everything from me and from you all, too.”
Kelly and Desmond remained standing for sentencing.
“A crime occurred, a life was lost - a brother, father, spouse, grandfather - was all lost by the actions you chose to take,” Judge Hickson said. He cited Kelly’s criminal record and took it into consideration, and issued a 14 year sentence in a state penal institution. An understanding that Kelly will cooperate in future testimonies regarding co-defendants in the same crime is part of the plea deal. No early release will be granted due to the ‘griegousness’ of the crime, Hickson said, and a probationary period will follow after release.
Order was maintained throughout the emotional hearing and families were released from the courtroom in groups. Deborah Wilson declined comment to Columbus news personnel outside the courthouse.
Co-defendant Devon Strader remains incarcerated, awaiting trial.