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The Palm Beach Post

December 7, 2000

Author: Susan Spencer-Wendel, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer []

A woman accused of trying to kill her freckle-faced children in a murder-suicide attempt testified Wednesday it was all a ruse to get her husband’s attention.

Patricia Kelly, 29, often cried and looked directly at jurors during her 1 1/2 hours of testimony.  She told of taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills and of a disintegrating marriage, including her husband’s affairs in late 1999.  That spiraled into Kelly having an affair with her 17-year-old neighbor.  After her husband discovered that, he filed for divorce and vowed to take the kids forever.

Kelly said she set up the mock murder-suicide attempt days later after seeing someone hook up a garden hose to a car tailpipe in the movie The Client.  She drove to a wooded area by their Royal Palm Beach home, jammed one end of a hose into the tailpipe, the other through the passenger window, and turned the car on. The fumes filled the cab and smelled bad, she said.

When she realized from a phone call that her husband wasn’t at home to find them that way, Kelly turned the car off.  Then she pulled the hose out of the tailpipe, opened the windows and doors, let two of her three children out and thought of what to do next. That’s when sheriff’s deputies found her, she said.

Kelly could not answer questions about a nurse’s testimony that she overheard Kelly at the hospital saying she wanted to kill her kids and that they were better off dead than with their father. Kelly says she can’t remember anything that happened after sheriff’s deputies arrived because of the handful of pills she popped while out in the woods.

A prosecutor emphasized on cross-examination that Kelly’s life had indeed been miserable – miserable enough to wrap that hose with lots of tape so it was sure to stick in the tailpipe, miserable enough to want to die and take her children with her.

“You couldn’t let him take your children away,” said Assistant State Attorney Bunnie Lenhardt.

The jury of seven women and one man is expected to begin deliberations today following closing arguments this morning.

She’s charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder. If convicted, Kelly faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count.
DAVID SPENCER/Staff Photographer

Patricia Kelly said Wednesday that she’d halted a mock murder-suicide attempt when police came.

Record Number:  0012070402