Court records: Slain robbery suspect should’ve been in jail

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The man shot dead by police officers Monday after apparently robbing a metro Grand Rapids credit union should have been in jail, court records show.

Frank Kelley Jr., 38, pleaded guilty to the breaking and entering of a Kentwood jewelry store earlier this year. But his jail sentence, which was supposed to begin in April, was delayed.

The robbery at Grand Rapids Fire Jewelry Outlet on 28th Street happened on the night of May 10, 2015.

“He smashed through the two front doors with a hammer,” store owner John Turrentine told 24 Hour News 8, describing the burglar’s method of operation. “Just quickly take a hammer, smash the glass. Grab all the stuff. About two, two and a half minutes, (he) was back out through the door.”

Kelley got away with over $61,000 in merchandise.

It’s what he left behind that got him busted.

“Got him through DNA. He’d actually cut himself on the glass,” Turrentine said.

Kelley would eventually plead guilty to breaking and entering. He was sentenced to a year in the county jail. Part of the plea deal he reached with prosecutors required him to make restitution payments to cover the cost of the merchandise he took.

Court records indicate Kelley, a Kent County resident, was in the process of closing on the sale of a house, which would have allowed him to pay $20,000 toward that restitution.

So in April, Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Buth approved a request to delay his sentence three weeks to allow him to close the deal and write the check to his victim.

The sentence was delayed to May 9. Buth warned Kelley that if he failed to pay or report to jail as expected, he could face up to 10 to 34 years in prison, according to court documents.

But Kelley was a no-show on May 9, so the judge issued a bench warrant.

Police didn’t catch up with him until Monday morning.

That’s when, according to police, Kelley entered the ATL Federal Credit Union on 36th Street in Wyoming armed with a gun. He allegedly forced customers to the ground and took cash before getting away in a car.

He was later located at Oxford Place Apartments near 44th Street and Breton Road SE in southeast Grand Rapids.

A foot chase ensued between Kelley and two Kentwood officers. The officers followed the man to a backyard on Holyoke Drive SE. Police said Kelley pointed a gun at the officers, at which point one of the officers shot and killed him.

Witnesses reported hearing as many as five shots.

Kentwood Police Chief Tom Hillen said Monday that he believes the officers acted properly. They have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

Though Kelley should have been serving his jail time when he was shot and killed, Turrentine, the owner of the jewelry store, said he thinks the fault lies with Kelley, not the system. He said it boils down to personal responsibility

“… And how you live your life,” Turrentine said. “Obviously, Mr. Kelley chose wrong.”

Kelley had a criminal history dating back to 1994 for an armed robbery case also in Kent County. He also was sentenced to prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and accessory after the fact to a felony.***CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story stated Kelley’s sentence was delayed until June 9, based on a court docket. Court records showed the correct date as May 9.***

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