Chicago man files plea in teen’s 2011 beach death
BY Stefano Esposito Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org April 11, 2013 8:52AM
Kevin Kennelly. Supplied photo.
Updated: May 13, 2013 6:23AM
Only when Kevin Kennelly’s remains lie beneath a headstone in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Alsip — next to his son — will the pain finally end, the Chicago Fire Department captain said Thursday.
Until then, Kennelly says he is at peace with an agreement that will allow James Malecek, 20, to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the July 2011 death of Kennelly’s 17-year-old son on an Indiana beach.
Under the terms of the agreement filed this week, Malecek — accused of throwing a fatal punch — is set to serve 145 days in prison and then spend the remainder of a four-year term wearing an electronic tracking device.
“It’s a slap on the wrist for what he did,” said Kennelly, whose son shared his first name. “But at the same time, any time you go to trial there’s always the possibility one juror thinks [of the defendant], ‘Oh, he seems like a nice boy.’”
Back in the summer of 2011, Kennelly’s four friends told police and then his grieving parents that a girl approached them on the beach, offering vodka.
One of the boys called her a drunk and told her to scram. She hit him and disappeared back down the beach into the crowd she had come from.
She returned with her brother, who aimed for the name caller, police said.
But it was Kennelly who caught the blow in his right ear.
He fell to the ground before his buddies sitting in the sand knew what was happening. Bloody foam poured from his nose and mouth.
Kennelly never regained consciousness. He remained on a ventilator long enough for his organs to be donated. Two days after going to the beach, he died, said his mother, Jean Kennelly.
Malecek is set to appear in LaPorte Circuit Court May 16. Malecek and his attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Kennelly said he expects to read a statement in court, detailing the impact of his son’s death on his life. He said he’s not expecting to hear an apology from Malecek.
Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick, Associated Press