Jury Convicts Kellar Of Sexual Abuse, Assault
A jury of eight men and four women found David Kellar, 51, of Pine Grove, guilty Monday of two counts of sexual assault in the third degree and two counts of sexual abuse by a custodian.
A sentencing hearing has been schedule for May 18. The penalty for each count of sexual abuse by a custodian is 10 to 20 years in prison. Each count of sexual assault in the third degree carries a sentence of one to five years. If Kellar receives the maximum sentence for each of these charges, and if the sentences are run consecutively, he could spend 22 to 50 years in prison.
“You are here today, as you know, for a sexual assault case,” Assistant Prosecutor Carl “Worthy” Paul stated during opening statements. “The child was 13 at the time these allegations occurred.”
Paul stated that the victim began receiving special affection from the defendant, which developed over the years to the point where there was sexual contact and intercourse.
During his opening arguments, Ferro stated that the evidence will show that at the time Kellar spoke to state police “he was a weak man who had given up.”
The jurors heard testimony from the victim’s brother, mother, and the victim herself. The victim’s brother testified that the victim was given special treatment by Kellar in that she was treated favorably. Furthermore, the brother testified that there were times when Kellar and the victim would “up and leave, randomly,” and would disappear for a couple hours.
He testified to the defense that he spent a lot of time in his room and rarely left it. Furthermore, he stated he did not like Kellar because he would yell and cuss a lot. He stated he did observe Kellar under the influence of alcohol.
He testified to the state that just because he did not like Kellar, it did not mean he would lie about him.
The victim’s mother testified next, admitting that Kellar, when drunk one time, had acknowledged sexually abusing her daughter.
She testified that Kellar did drink a lot, including vodka. She stated that he sometimes would become depressed and “not himself,” as well as “withdrawn.”
“He didn’t want to be around nobody,” she stated.
“Was he the kind of person to say things to agree with people?” Ferro asked.
“Yes, when he was part of the fire department,” the mother stated. “He would agree to things to get people off his back.”
She further testified that the day Kellar had told her about the sexual abuse, he had been drinking throughout the day.
Paul further questioned the mother about Kellar’s confession. She stated that she had to “ask him quite a few times what he was talking about.”
“You got him to clarify that he sexually assaulted your daughter?,” Paul asked.
“He said it as plain as I could get him to talk,” she stated.
Sergeant Charlie Kush of the West Virginia State Police testified that he has conducted over 2,000 interviews and he knew Kellar as he had interviewed him in April 2014. Sergeant Kush testified that he interviewed Kellar at the New Martinsville Police Department. He noted that there is a courtroom in the police department, with a judge’s chamber in the back of the courtroom. “I conducted the interview in the judge’s chambers,” Kush noted.
Kush testified that Kellar was never handcuffed nor shackled, nor was he placed under arrest.
The Miranda form Kush used was entered into evidence. He stated that this form includes places to receive Kellar’s general information, such as date of birth and address. Furthermore, Kush asked Kellar to initial beside each line in the form that explains his rights, including that he is not under arrest and free to leave at anytime. The form, which Kellar initialed, also reads that he has the right to remain silent, to talk to a lawyer, etc.
Kush reiterated that Kellar was not handcuffed nor restrained at any time. Furthermore, Kellar did not ask Kush if he would stop asking questions. Kellar was given breaks, and he returned to the room on his own free will.
Kush stated that Kellar was cooperative, though at one point he did became upset and cried when explaining that he had sexual contact with the victim.
Kush stated that the defendant indicated he had high blood pressure, as well as depression, but was not taking any medications.
“Were you in uniform when you interviewed (Kellar)?” Ferro asked, suggesting that Kellar could have been intimidated by the police.
“No, a shirt and tie,” Kush remarked. “I might’ve had a golf shirt on. I can’t remember.”
Kush confirmed, when asked by Ferro, that Kellar had spoken of his depression, arthritis, and “nerve problems,” as well as reported that he had been attempting to apply for Social Security Disability for a third time, as he had been rejected the first two times.
Sergeant Brian Collins from the West Virginia State Police, testifying on behalf of the state, noted that he had been with the West Virginia State Police for 16 years. He noted he has conducted “at least 500” interviews.
Collins stated that he knew Kellar from this investigation, as well as he had seen him around the fire department.
Reiterated what Kush had testified to, Collins stated that the doors to the room where Kellar was being interviewed were closed, but not locked. Furthermore, Kellar was not under arrest and he did not ask to have counsel nor have the interview stopped.
Kellar was cooperative and received breaks during the interview when asked, said Collins. He also noted that Kellar did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and did not tell either police officer that he had any medical condition that would impede him from telling the truth or cause stress.
Collins read from a statement he had taken from Kellar in which he (Collins) wrote down the questions and answers but Kellar signed off on each page.
Kellar admitted in the statement that he had sexual relations with the victim and that he and the victim “really want to be together.”
Furthermore, in his statement, Kellar noted that he and the victim “want to get married when she turns 18.”
Collins testified that Kellar was free to go at any time during the statement.
The jurors were then played a video from when Collins drove Kellar back to Pine Grove that day. Collins could be seen and heard telling Kellar that he was not under arrest and that he could get out of the car anytime, as well as ask Collins to stop asking questions. Kellar could be seen and heard telling Collins about his relations with the victim. Kellar stated that he did not want to be “put away the rest of my life.”
Collins testified to the court that Kellar was not handcuffed nor did he smell of alcohol that day.
Ferro, when questioning Collins, remarked that Kellar sounded “defeated or broken down,” in the tape.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Collins noted. “I’d say he’s remorseful, is how I’d say it.”
The alleged victim in the case eventually entered her testimony from the Wetzel County Magistrate’s office after being unable to respond to Paul’s questions in the courtroom. She froze up when asked about the situation, eventually referring to sex as “a bad thing.” She did state that Kellar and herself had sexual relations.
Two witnesses testified on behalf of the defense, noting that they knew Kellar and were good friends with him. One witness stated that she was good friends with Kellar. And, when asked, she agreed she would trust her own children around Kellar.
The second witness testified that he knew Kellar for about five to seven years. He stated he did not see anything between Kellar and the alleged victim that he considered inappropriate.
“Were there times when they could’ve been alone and you wouldn’t know about it?” Paul asked the witness.
“Yes,” he noted.
Kellar testified that he was never alone with the alleged victim, nor did he have sexual contact with her.
He testified he was on the Pine Grove Fire Department for 20 to 30 years, off and on. He stated he was placed on medical leave, because of his “drinking and nerves and things.”
Kellar noted he drank frequently, whenever he “could get it, day or night, it didn’t matter.” He stated that he was an officer on the fire department and “pretty much followed through on the orders.” He testified that he also served as chief, and “had to do a lot of ambulance runs.”
Testifying he had seen some unpleasant things while serving on the department, Kellar noted his first call was a suicide.
“Was it tough for you to try to block those things out of your mind?” Ferro questioned.
Kellar responded that he couldn’t “block them out,” and that he tried, and “tried to drink it away . . . Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.”
“Around the time you talked to Sergeant Collins, what was your state of mind generally then?” Ferro asked.
Kellar stated that he really didn’t know.
“Were you drinking heavily in those times?” Ferro asked.
Kellar stated that he was. When he was asked if he had sought any treatment, Kellar noted that somebody had put him in Northwood.
He testified that when drinking, he would go to the graveyard, to get away.
Kellar testified that he didn’t know if he had told the victim’s mother that he had sexually assaulted her daughter.
“If you had done it, would you be unable to remember it because you were drinking at the time?” Ferro questioned.
Kellar stated he was sure he would have remembered.
“Was it safe to say that during that time you were a heavy drinker?” Ferro asked. Kellar responded in the affirmative, that he would drink vodka, beer, “or whatever.”
“I want to turn to your statements to the state police. What you told the police . . . was that true or false?”
Kellar stated that it was false, that he just wanted to go home.
“Did you feel scared?” Ferro asked, in which Kellar replied “always.”
“Did you feel like you had to say something to go home?” Ferro asked.
“Yes,” Kellar noted.
“There were two (officers), correct?” Ferro asked.
“Yes,” Kellar stated.
“Did you feel intimidated?” Ferro questioned.
“I really don’t know,” Kellar remarked.
“Outnumbered?” Ferro asked.
“Yes,” Kellar stated.
“Now that written statement that Sergeant Collins read to the jury, did you write any of that?” Ferro asked.
“No,” Kellar stated.
“What you told (Collins) and what you told Sergeant Kush, that was false, correct?
Kellar agreed that it was.
He also agreed that he did not have any “type of sex” with the victim.
“Why would you tell (the victim’s mother) and why would you tell troopers that you did have sexual contact with (the victim)?” Paul asked.
“It was supposedly a dream I had or something,” Kellar stated.
“Did you tell the state police it as a dream?” Paul asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Kellar noted.
Paul asked Kellar if he felt that he (Kellar) looked as if he was afraid or intimidated in the video recorded in Collins’ vehicle.
“I don’t really know. I just wanted to go home,” Kellar noted.
“Was that your demeanor the whole time you were with the troopers?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know,” Kellar stated.
“In the tape, if I remember correctly, you said you should be put away for life . . . is that correct?” Paul asked.
“Yes,” Kellar admitted.
“Was anyone holding a gun to your head at the time?” Paul asked.
“I hope not. Not that I’m aware of,” Kellar stated.
“Were there any threats made to you at the time of that statement?” Paul questioned.
“No,” Kellar noted.
Paul asked Kellar to look at the written statement prepared by Collins, that he (Kellar) had signed. Kellar stated that the statement was not accurate. “It didn’t happen,” he noted.
Kellar noted that on page two of the statement where he had answered yes to whether or not he had sexual relations with the victim . . . “It says yes. No, I didn’t.”
“You told (Trooper Collins) yes in the car, and it’s my understanding that from Trooper Kush’s testimony, you told both of them wrong. The tape is wrong, and all the statements are wrong?” Paul questioned.
“I said it wrong,” Kellar noted.
“Why?” Paul asked.
“I don’t know,” Kellar stated.
“Why don’t you know?” Paul asked.
“I just don’t,” Kellar stated.
“Do you work with the police?” Paul asked.
“Sure,” Kellar stated, adding, when asked, that he works with police on car accidents.
“Why would you have a reason to be intimidated by the police?” Paul asked
“I never got that close to them,” Kellar stated.
“You work with them, but not closely?” Paul asked.
Kellar stated that the police “make it to an accident, do their measurements, and turn it over to us (the fire department).”
Kellar noted that the police “just make me nervous,” though he couldn’t explain why.
“In the car, you said you wished you could go back in time and change what happened. You also said there are pretty sick people out there, and I just realized I’m one of them. Did you say that?” Paul asked.
“Yes,” Kellar admitted.
“So we are supposed to believe all that is made up, but today’s story is true,” Paul stated.
Ferro then questioned Kellar about the room he was in when being questioned by the police. Ferro asked Kellar if the door was shut, if the room was closed, and if there were any windows. Kellar could not recollect. However, when asked if he felt trapped in the small room, Kellar noted “I couldn’t go nowhere.”
“You were told you were free to go, correct?” Paul then asked Kellar.
“Yes,” Kellar admitted.
“Stolen innocence,” Paul stated during closing arguments. “I’ve been trying sexual assault cases for 14 years now, and one of the most difficult thing is the stolen innocence of a child. (The victim’s) innocence was stolen from her by Mr. Kellar. What you saw from her and what you saw in the video . . . That’s a child who has been sexually assaulted.
“I’ve done training. I can’t comprehend what it’s like to be a victim. I can’t begin to comprehend it. I’ve seen the end result of it. The net result is a child who has difficulty, difficulty of talking about body parts. It’s abhorrent.”
Paul stressed that Kellar was not under any duress from the police. “You heard me ask a lot of the questions of the troopers concerning Kellar’s demeanor, the place where he was questioned, the setting . . . all of that was to aid you in what the court has instructed you to do.”
“We had the benefit of the video,” Paul noted. “You could see (Kellar’s) demeanor. You could see he was not under any duress.”
Paul reiterated that the state was obligated to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. “He’s acknowledged who he is, his birthday . . . There’s no dispute it occurred here in Wetzel County . . . The defendant, when questioned by the troopers, couldn’t recall a date. He was the one that put it somewhere in 2013.”
“The only elements he’s denied is the actual sexual content. Think back to the testimony. It’s hard to understand why an individual would confess to abusing a child if they did not do it.” Paul states that not only did Kellar confess to the victim’s mother, but he also confessed to each of the state police officers. “No one confesses to something they didn’t do, once. I can’t see how someone confesses multiple times and then says they didn’t do it.
“Mr. Kellar would have you believe that on four separate occasions he acknowledges sexually assaulting this child, and today, that never happened. That’s incredible.”
“Ladies and gentleman of the jury. The (alleged victim) and Dave Kellar did not have sex in any way, shape, or form,” Ferro stated. “Supposedly it only happened once, even though they were supposedly in love,” Ferro stated. “Ladies and gentleman, maybe it didn’t happen. I submit to you it did not. Based on everything you’ve seen, heard, read, and considered, the pieces don’t fit. There are some jagged edges . . . There were no eyewitnesses, ear witnesses, no photographs, no medical records, no video . . .”
“Dave Kellar is innocent,” Ferro stated. Again, Mr. Kellar felt pressured. He felt trapped and essentially caved in, so I’m asking you to find Dave Kellar not guilty of any of these counts. It didn’t happen. It’s at least reasonable doubt. The state has not made its burden. There’s evidence to find that he’s not guilty.”
“He took her innocence away from her,” Paul noted to the jury, “and she could never go back. That’s wrong.”
“He told us on tape that ‘there’s pretty sick people out there, and I just realized I’m one of them.'”