Man gets 145 days for throwing punch that killed Beverly teen on Indiana beach
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN AND SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY Sun-Times Media May 17, 2013 8:00PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:28PM
A DePaul University student was sentenced to 145 days behind bars Thursday after admitting his role in a deadly Indiana brawl that claimed the life of a teenager from Chicago’s Beverly community.
The victim’s mother said the man who threw a punch that killed her son “never really expressed remorse” and took from him the chance to also go on to college.
James “Jake” Malecek will begin serving his jail term for involuntary manslaughter on July 1, his attorney, James Voyles, confirmed in an email after a hearing at the LaPorte Circuit Court. As part of the plea deal, Malecek, 20, also was ordered to be on electronic monitoring for nearly four years after his jail stint.
Malecek threw the punch that killed 17-year-old Kevin Kennelly Jr. on an Indiana beach on July 4, 2011, prosecutors said.
Kennelly’s pals told police that Malecek’s sister approached the friends and offered them vodka. One of the boys called her a drunk and told her to scram. She hit him and disappeared back down the beach, then returned with her brother, Malecek, who aimed for the name caller, police said.
Malecek instead hit Kennelly hard in the right ear. Kennelly lost consciousness. He died two days later.
“He (Malecek) never really expressed remorse,” Kevin’s mother, Jean Kennelly, said Thursday night in a telephone interview with the SouthtownStar. “He said he did not intend to kill him. How could someone throw a punch with such force and call it an accident? It doesn’t make a difference what the intent was.
“The judge told him he was getting a gift with this plea agreement, and he hopes he will make something of his life with the gift he’s been given,” she said.
“Unlike my son, he is going to college. He took that away from Kevin,” she said, adding that they are relieved to put the criminal case behind them.
LaPorte County prosecutor Rob Neary said the agreement was a “fair resolution.”
“It was a difficult case because there was no intent to kill,” he said. “The family wanted jail time and wanted him charged with a felony. The family is so devastated, nothing would have made them feel better.”
Kevin Jr. was the Kennellys’ only child.
The slain boy’s uncle, Art Kennelly, on Thursday night described the baseball-loving Mount Carmel High School student as a “great kid.”
Malecek’s relatives offered their condolences to Kennelly’s relatives in a statement they issued Thursday.
“Jake’s life has been forever altered by this tragedy,” the statement read. “He is deeply remorseful and horribly pain stricken. However, we are confident Jake will spend the rest of his life learning from the events of July 4, 2011 and teaching others about the importance of tolerance, acceptance, peace and understanding because that is the fundamental nature of Jake Malecek.”