Richard Earl Witcher Jr. of Gloucester, was sentenced to 18 years in prison Friday for the 2011 murder of Karen Kay Kelly. Witcher on Jan. 11 entered Alford pleas (admitting the evidence against him was sufficient for a conviction while not admitting his guilt) to second degree murder and using a firearm in its commission.
When she was killed, Kelly was living with Witcher’s uncle who was jailed for allegedly assaulting her. He was scheduled to be released the next day and Kelly was preparing to relocate to Northern Virginia prior to his returning home, according to testimony in Circuit Court of Gloucester. Her friend, Kathleen Hamilton, said she went to Kelly’s house on July 27 to pick up two turtles that she would be keeping for Kelly.
Instead, Hamilton discovered Kelly’s body and called police. "She was going to leave so she wouldn’t get hurt. She knew she was going to get killed," Hamilton testified. Kelly had sustained a gunshot wound that entered her mouth and exited the back of her head. She had also been strangled.
Kelly’s mother, Beverly Kelly, also said her daughter was scared and was only still at the house because she was waiting for someone to take her pets. She said Witcher chose that day to kill her because he knew she was moving. "I request Ricky be shown the same leniency he showed my daughter," she told the court.
Ashley Zeno, the victim’s daughter, said Witcher could not have been in a state of alcohol-induced blackout when he killed her mother as he claimed. She said he drove there and strangled her mother so hard that it broke her neck, shot her, then left to clean up.