Carl D. Kelley, 59, is one of four defendants accused in the August 2011 shooting death of Marc Despain, 34, also of Jonesboro. He was officially sentenced today in Craighead County Circuit Court to 35 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington of Jonesboro said that Kelley admitted his role in the murder for hire conspiracy that resulted in the death of his daughter's husband, a real estate investor and appraiser. Kelley had entered a guilty plea on December 4.
Jack and Tana Despain, parents of Marc Despain, addressed the court and Kelley with victim impact statements, Ellington said.
Four defendants: Kelley, convicted shooter Terrance Barker and Johnny Hubbard were arrested days after the killing on charges of capital murder for conspiring to kill Despain. Evidentiary developments this past spring led Jonesboro Police to arrest Michelle Despain, Marc Despain's wife and Kelley's daughter, for her alleged role in the conspiracy to kill her husband.
Hubbard introduced Kelley to Barker, who acted as the trigger man in the murder, prosecutors say. Kelley is also accused of driving Barker to Despain's home on Jenni Cove and letting him inside the house to kill his son-in-law.
On May 7, Barker pleaded guilty to first degree and was sentenced to 35 years in prison on the condition he fully cooperates with authorities in future proceedings involving the murder. Hubbard entered a plea to a reduced charge of hindering apprehension and received an 18-year sentence. His probation on a previous drug conviction was revoked and he was sentenced to 40 years. The prison terms are to run consecutively for a total of 58 years, Ellington said.
Ellington added that Despain's parents also approved Hubbard's plea agreement and sentencing.
"We have not entered into any of these pleas without the consent of Marc's parents. We have been able to obtain guilty pleas from three of the four defendants in this case. Marc's parents have been in full agreement with our negotiations, and we will now focus our sights on the final defendant," the prosecutor said.
Kelley's plea and sentencing means that his daughter, Michelle Despain, remains as the final defendant in the case. She is charged with capital murder and is due back in court on January 28th for a pretrial hearing. Her trial is scheduled to begin February 11th.
"With Kelley's guilty plea and sentencing, and thanks to the good work Detective Vic Brooks and the Jonesboro Police Department, the State is one step closer in obtaining justice for Marc Despain and his parents," Ellington said. "Today's proceedings will allow us to focus our time and resources on the Michelle Despain case."