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

Days after Kelly was charged, he was dead.
Days after Kelly was charged, he was dead.
Liam Kelly's Brown County mugshot

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.

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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.

 

Kelly Charges

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.


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