Two Columbus men were sentenced to 21 years to life in prison Tuesday morning in Delaware County Common Pleas Court after a jury found them guilty of murder last Friday.
Reginald Timothy Conley, 28, of Columbus and Jermaine Darnell Kelly, 32, of Columbus, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Tuesday morning to be sentenced by Judge Everett Krueger for two counts of murder and a count of intimidation of a witness in a criminal case, a third-degree felony.
All of the charges also carried a firearm specification and the murder charges also carried gang specifications.
Kelly was also found guilty of one count of having weapons while under disability, a third-degree felony.
During the trial that started March 7, prosecutors alleged that on Nov. 9, 2012, Conley and Kelly drove a third man, Dontee Gervins, to Red Bank Road in Harlem Township, shot him and then left him for dead. Gervins made it to a home on Red Bank Road and banged on the door, telling the resident that he had been shot. The resident testified that she heard the banging and called 9-1-1.
Gervins died in Riverside Methodist Hospital nine days later, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Gervins was killed because he was the only person who could tie Conley to an October 2012 double homicide on Gault Street in Columbus.
A key piece of evidence in the case was a phone call from the Franklin County Jail between a man named Jonathan Dantzler, one of the other parties involved in the Gault Street shooting, and Kelly. The call was made hours after the shooting and featured Kelly telling Dantzler that he was just with Twice (Conley’s street name) and they had just “got a little deer.”
Before Krueger sentenced the men, he heard comments from Gervins older sisters, who said that their brother’s life was “worth more than a deer” and criticized them for their lack of remorse or respect during the trial. They also thanked Delaware County for its work to resolve the case.
After Krueger, prosecutors and defense attorneys determined the murder charges and the intimidation of a witness in a criminal case charge merge as one at sentencing Krueger sentenced Conley and Kelly to between 15 years and life in prison for the charges.
Krueger then sentenced the men to three years for the firearm specification and three years for the gang specification. Krueger ordered the six years from the specifications be served consecutive to the prison term for the murder charge.
Krueger said killing a man to prevent him to testifying offends him under the “rule of law” and said the pair would be sentenced to the maximum penalties.
Additionally, Kelly was sentenced to three years in prison for the weapons under disability charge, but Krueger said that sentence would be served concurrent to the other charges.
Conley was already incarcerated on a Franklin County possession of drugs case when he and Kelly were indicted in July 2016 but was set to be released on March 3. Krueger therefore credited him 11 days for time he spent in the Delaware County Jail after his prison term was set to expire.
Kelly was credited 235 days for the time spent in jail since his arrest on July 22, 2016.
Before the hearing concluded, Krueger appointed attorneys to handle the men’s appeals.
Conley and Kelly were in the Delaware County Jail Tuesday afternoon awaiting transport to prison.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.