Man found guilty of capital murder
by ELSIE HODNETT
Sep 02, 2010 | 3488 views |  0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — A St. Clair County jury returned a 10-2 recommendation for the death penalty after unanimously finding a Moody man guilty of two counts of capital murder and one count of sexual torture Thursday.

The jury found Michael Brandon Kelley, 29, of Moody, guilty of the Nov. 16, 2008 capital murder and sexual torture of Emily Milling, 23, of Leeds.

Kelley took the stand Thursday morning in his own defense.

“I did not kill Emily Milling,” he said.

Kelley testified on the Friday Milling disappeared he began the day with a visit to his two children.

“I got up, saw my kids, and started drinking about 11 a.m.,” he said. “I was drinking and riding around by myself.”

Kelley testified he rode around and met up with three friends and went to visit several cousins. After dropping the three friends back at their homes, he drove to a couple other cousins’ houses before going to the Central Club in Leeds at about 1 a.m.

“I saw someone I recognized within five minutes,” he said.

Kelley testified he was talking with a guy from Leeds he knew when Milling recognized him. He and Milling spoke for several minutes.

“I don’t remember when we left,” he said.

Kelley testified he left with Milling as seen in the Central Club’s security video of that night.

Kelley testified he and Milling went to David Heath’s house. Heath is Kelley’s cousin and had previously dated Milling.

“We drove up and apparently nobody was there,” he said. “The light was off. I didn’t get out of the car and we drove back to the Central Club.”

Kelley testified on the way back to the Central Club he passed two guys he had previously worked with.

“We stopped and talked to them, then we went back to my trailer,” he said. “The two guys, they followed behind us. The purpose was to party.”

Kelley testified the two men had some cocaine.

“I done a little bit and left the three of them in the trailer to go obtain cocaine,” he said.

Kelley testified he went to a place in Moody, but did not find any cocaine there. He went back to his trailer and told Milling and one of the men he was going to Birmingham to buy some cocaine.

Kelley testified he purchased some cocaine in Birmingham and went back to his trailer, but nobody was there.

“I walked in and passed out on the bed,” he said.

Kelley testified he stayed asleep until about 5:30 a.m. when someone called about Emily.

“We had a couple-minute conversation,” he said. “Then I noticed something in the hallway—somebody laying there. I noticed a blue sleeping bag laying over somebody—it was Emily. I started calling her name and shook her to see what was wrong with her.”

Kelley testified he “freaked out” at finding Milling dead and drove to where the two men lived.

“Prior to this week, I had not told anyone this story,” he said. “I was scared for my family.”

Kelley testified he had a conversation with the two men, then returned to his trailer.

“I tried to put her clothes back on her, but the jeans were too tight,” he said.

Kelley testified he picked Milling up but she fell out of his arms at the front door and steps area.

“I picked her up and put her in the Blazer,” he said.

Kelley testified he took her body to Markeeta Road and left her body there, then returned to the trailer and picked her clothes and some other items with blood on them and placed them in trash bags, which he threw out in the dumpster at his father’s business in Moody.

“Then I went back home,” he said.

Kelley testified he went to California because of his truck driving job, and did not attempt to clean his trailer with the exception of throwing the clothes and some other items into the dumpster.

“I didn’t kill her,” he said. “If I had killed her, I would have cleaned up the blood.”

The jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutes before returning a unanimous verdict of guilty on all three charges.

Several family members and pastors testified before the sentencing phase about Kelley’s character, that he was a kind person, a good brother, son and grandson, a helpful person and especially kind to animals.

The jury deliberated again for approximately 45 minutes before returning with a 10-2 verdict, 10 recommending the death penalty and two recommending life in prison without the possibility of parole.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Jim Hill will sentence Kelley at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 18.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.