Family fears convicted killer will be paroled

By ALLEN MINCEY Staff Writer
Posted 8/18/17

A Cleveland family is concerned the convicted killer of their mother could potentially be released from his life imprisonment in September.

Brenda Wilson was the victim of five gunshots in the …

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Family fears convicted killer will be paroled


A Cleveland family is concerned the convicted killer of their mother could potentially be released from his life imprisonment in September.

Brenda Wilson was the victim of five gunshots in the parking lot of the Church of the Harvest in December 1990. Her assailant, Larry Kelley, was sentenced to life in prison, though he had argued that he was mentally unable to stand trial.

Court records showed that this defense was not successful, and he was convicted of killing his former wife, who had divorced him only months earlier in May 1990. His case was later brought to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, which ruled against his appeal. The state-court ruling meant Kelley would serve his sentence, pending parole.

Kelley came up for parole several years ago, but that request was denied. He is allowed to seek parole every three years, and his next hearing will be on Sept. 11, in Chattanooga.

The “heinous” nature of the murder has Wilson’s family especially concerned about the possibility of parole, according to a family member.

“He hunted her down like an animal ... killing with multiple gunshot wounds,” said WIlson’s daughter, Raquel. She is one of Wilson’s three children, all of whom oppose the parole.

“He said that he killed her because if he ‘couldn’t have her, no one could’,” Raquel Wilson said. The two divorced because, as her daughter said, he “had been an abusive husband.”

Raquel Wilson was emotional as she described her mother’s death. She said it brings up many strong emotions.

“Kids and adults at the church witnessed the murder and tried to help her,” she said.

According to the court of appeals decision, “witnesses heard screams and saw (Kelley) struggle with (Wilson) as she tried to get out of the passenger side of the automobile,” that she occupied in the church parking lot. “(Kelley) fired four or five shots, then climbed out of the car and pushed the victim to the ground. When approached by the pastor and members of the church who had witnessed the incident, (Kelley) appeared distraught and reportedly exclaimed ‘Oh my God,’ and ‘What have I done?’”

Police identified the weapon as a Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun, and reported the clip held five bullets. The bullets were “hollow points, designed to cause maximum damage.”

The court of appeals noted that “another weapon was found hidden in a tissue box in the victim’s vehicle.” Police also found an ammunition belt for the bullets.

WIlson had reportedly been beaten prior to the murder, though the appeals court records did not indicate when that might have happened.

Wilson’s children claimed Kelley killed their mother with “malice and forethought, and the life imprisonment sentence was appropriate.” Now, they worry that the murderer of their mother will be set free from his imprisonment at the maximum security prison in Wartburg.

WIlson’s children are Raquel Wilson, Tammy Wilson and Brian Wilson. They are all asking the public to help them keep Kelley in prison by gathering letters of protest.

It was suggested that those letters be mailed to the Tennessee Board of Paroles, 404 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 1300, Nashville TN 37243




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