Conviction tossed in Janna Kelly murder

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An appeals courts has ruled that Robin Root will receive a new trial for the 2007 murder of Janna Kelly.

In a ruling released Friday, a Michigan Court of Appeals said the statements Root made to police shouldn’t be allowed as evidence and her conviction has been tossed. A new trial date has not yet been scheduled.

The court said investigators should have read Root her Miranda Rights before she confessed, but failed to do so until afterwards. Therefore, the court said the statements should not have been used as evidence in the case against her.

Root was sentenced to life in prison without parole in December 2015 for the murder of Kelly. A jury found Root guilty of first-degree murder in the case.

Kelly disappeared on Dec. 4, 2007. It wasn’t until March 2008 when Kelly’s burned body was found in an Ottawa County blueberry field.

DNA evidence that went untested for years led police to Root in July 2014.

In a taped interview on April 22, 2015, Root told officers she pushed Kelly during an argument over back rent. Root said Kelly, who was her landlady, was knocked unconscious. Root told police she loaded Kelly into the trunk of her car and left her there overnight. Root said when she returned the next day, Kelly was dead. Police said Root dumped Kelly’s body in an Ottawa County blueberry field and set it on fire.

Kelly’s family told 24 Hour News 8 that they were shocked and disappointed to learn of the Court of Appeals’ decision. They did not wish to comment on the record, but said they were in need of prayers and will continue to make sure justice for Janna is served.

“I admitted to an accident not to premeditated,” Root said in a 2015 interview.

Ottawa County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lee Fisher, who argued the case against Root, told 24 Hour News 8 his office plans to appeal the ruling to uphold the murder conviction. The appeal will be handled by the Michigan Supreme Court.

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