Prosecution rests on day four of murder trial


The prosecution has rested in trial for two Columbus men charged with a 2012 murder after the jury heard testimony from their final witness.

The trial for Reginald Timothy Conley, 28, of Lucasville and Jermaine Darnell Kelly, 32, of Columbus entered its fourth day of testimony Thursday morning when prosecutors called detectives from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office to testify.

During opening arguments on Monday, First Assistant Prosecutor Kyle Rohrer alleged that on Nov. 9 2012, Conley and Kelly drove a man named Dontee Gervins to Red Bank Road in Harlem Township, shot him and left him for dead. Prior testimony established that Gervins made it to a home on Red Bank road where the residents called 9-1-1.

Gervins died of his wound nine days later.

Detective Art Kester testified Thursday that he had met with Kelly shortly after the shooting and said Kelly denied knowing Conley, who also goes by the street name “Twice.” Assistant County Prosecutor Douglas Dumolt then played a phone call recorded from the Franklin County Jail where an inmate named Jonathan Dantzler spoke to Kelly the night Gervins was shot.

Dumolt played the phone call for the jury and Kester testified that Kelly speaks to Dantzler at one point and said he was just with Twice and said he and Twice “shot a little deer.” Defense attorneys Scott Gordon and Kirk McVay pointed out during cross-examination that it is very difficult to hear and understand what is being said on the phone call.

Additionally, Dumolt played another phone call from the Franklin County Jail for the jury, this time between Kelly and his mother. During the call, the man Kester identified as Kelly seemingly tells his mother what to say to a private investigator who may ask her questions.

“They gonna ask you what I was doing around that time, tell them I was home with you,” Kelly said in the phone call. Kelly also instructs his mother to tell investigators that his phone had been stolen. During cross- examination, defense attorneys pointed out that Kelly had a separate ongoing case at that time in Franklin County and said there’s no way to know that Kelly was referring to the Gervins shooting.

Sheriff’s Detective Chuck Gannon also testified Thursday afternoon and discussed analysis of Gervins, Kelly and Conley’s cell phones.

Gannon said that Kelly willingly turned his cell phone over to detectives during the investigation and testified that analysis showed that Twice/Conley had been deleted from the phone’s list of contacts right after Kelly scheduled a meeting with detectives.

Gannon testified that Conley also turned his phone over to police but noted that Conley’s phone had been activated the day Gervins died. Gannon testified that Conley told him “the phone would tell the truth” when he turned it over.

Prior testimony alleged that Gervins was picked up in a Ford Focus by Conley the day of the shooting. Gannon testified that in August 2012 Conley received a traffic citation while a driving a Ford Focus.

Gannon spent much of his cross examination explaining why suspects other than Conley and Kelly were not investigated. In many cases, Gannon testified that detectives reviewed the phone records of potential suspects and saw that they seemingly had no contact with Gervins or were not in Delaware County when the shooting occurred.

Gannon also testified during cross-examination that detectives were not able to locate the weapon Gervins was killed by.

The case is expected to conclude with presentation of defense witnesses, closing arguments and jury instructions on Friday.

Conley and Kelly were indicted by a Delaware County grand jury on July 22, 2016, and were in the Delaware County Jail Thursday.

Conley is charged with two counts of murder; one charge of intimidation of witness in a criminal case, a third-degree felony; and one charge of having weapons while under disability, also a third-degree felony.

Kelly is charged with two counts of murder; one charge of intimidation of witness in a criminal case, a third-degree felony; and two counts of having weapons while under disability, also third-degree felonies.

Both murder charges carry firearm specifications and gang specifications, both of which could add years to any potential prison term.

Reginald Conley Conley

Jermaine Kelly Kelly

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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