Decorated New Ulm vet commits suicide after being charged with criminal vehicular homicide

Categories: Tragedy
LiamKellyBooking.jpg
Liam Kelly's Brown County mugshot
Days after Kelly was charged, he was dead.
On June 27, Liam Kelly, a 22-year-old veteran who had been awarded the Army Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal (among other honors) for his service in Kuwait, was charged with four felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with a February 15 one-car wreck that killed a passenger in the 2005 Mini Cooper he was driving and left his brother seriously injured.

Just days later -- around 1 p.m. on June 30 -- Kelly, a New Ulm resident, shot himself in his hometown's Riverside Park. Authorities arrived at the scene shortly thereafter thanks to a hang-up 911 call emanating from a portable bathroom, the Mankato Free Press reports.

See also:
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Kelly was flown to a Twin Cities hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the Free Press.

In court documents we obtained, prosecutors allege Kelly was driving "approximately 125 miles per hour when he lost control of his vehicle" just before 4 a.m. on that fateful February morning along Highway 14 near New Ulm. Shortly after the accident, a breathalyzer exam indicated Kelly had a blood alcohol level of .117, but after he was transported to the hospital for treatment -- his arm was badly mangled -- an 8 a.m. blood exam pegged his BAL at .039.

Kelly, however, admitted he was driving too fast and had "consumed as many as four beers" earlier that night, the criminal complaint says. An accident reconstruction found that Kelly's driving, not road conditions, was at fault for the wreck, and he was finally hit with criminal vehicular homicide charges four months after the accident.

Kelly received his honorable discharge from active duty in April 2012. A search of court records indicates he was cited for driving-related offenses both before and after his discharge. He was driving without a license at the time of the February 15 wreck and was charged for that as well.

In an editorial titled "Why do we report the bad news?" Kevin Sweeney, editor of Kelly's hometown New Ulm Journal, justifies covering Liam's suicide in the first place.

"The answer is, it was news," Sweeney writes. "That is the business we are in, the service we provide to our readers, to report the news, good and bad... We feel we owe it to our readers to provide the facts." (Not all Journal commenters agree with Sweeney's stance.)

Kelly's funeral is scheduled for today.

To read the criminal complaint for yourself, click to page two.



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22 comments
diva2456
diva2456

Prayers for everyone involved, the soldier and the person killed in the accident and their families. What a sad story.

Matt Hazard
Matt Hazard

How about some prayers for the person he murdered as well? It'll be a little tougher though, because their name wasn't even in the story.

Shallon Rheault
Shallon Rheault

God says we were not made perfect. My sympathy and prayers to the family.

Jeanne Vrem
Jeanne Vrem

Very sad, once a hero always a hero. May you rest in peace, peace and love to the precious New Ulm community from a 1919 addict

MisterDickerson2U
MisterDickerson2U

Sweeney's New Ulm Urinal never made mention of Liam's distinguished service.  They only beat the shame drum to appease the folks on the hill who need to feel superior in all things.  Again, fuck you Kevin.  And fuck your piss poor attitude.  Your paper helped put the pressure on this young man and you walk around with your nose in the air.  Karma, bitch, watch for it.

Chad Howard
Chad Howard

Like you need a degree to write for City Pages...IALTO

Jon Adaskin
Jon Adaskin

Very sad! My thoughts go to his family

Karen Larson
Karen Larson

Just sad, prayers for him and his family.

Cat Manchack
Cat Manchack

I'm from New Ulm. I know his family. This is hard to see especially on the day they're laying him to rest.

Marlena Myles
Marlena Myles

Lovely how there's even paragraph in the article that straight up says why this is news. Journalism degree well-earned?

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