Slow mail delivery may have delayed hearing for Fred Meyer murder suspect

Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.com
·2 min read

A hearing to require medications for a man accused of shooting two men inside the Richland Fred Meyer store has been pushed back.

Aaron Christopher Kelly, 40, has been in treatment at Eastern State Hospital since evaluators determined that he needed mental health treatment before he could stand trial.

That treatment was ordered about a month and a half ago. As part of it, Eastern State Hospital staff said they needed to use medication. This is something that Kelly has resisted.

The issue was expected to be decided after a Friday morning hearing, but defense attorneys Karla Kane and Michael Vander Sys asked for a delay because Kelly was sending a statement about the case to his attorneys.

Kelly intended for the statement to be read out loud in court instead of him testifying,

He said he mailed it on Monday, but Vander Sys had not received it when the Friday hearing happened.

“He has a right to address the court at the hearing,” Vander Sys said.

Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Pang objected to the delay, pointing out that the court hearing has been pushed back twice already — once on June 30 and once on July 7.

He said Kelly had enough notice to respond with a statement prior to the hearing.

Judge Diana Ruff said Kelly’s statements could impact his attorneys’ ability represent him at the hearing. While it’s a time sensitive issue, she agreed to push the hearing back to Aug. 16.

“Mr. Kelly, if there is information you need to provide to your attorneys, you need to do that ahead of time because there won’t be a continuance again,” she said.

No matter what the outcome is, Kelly is expected to appear in court on Sept. 21 to check on his status.

Case on hold

Kelly is accused of going into the Richland Fred Meyer on Feb. 7 and shooting two strangers — Instacart worker Justin Krumbah and then Fred Meyer employee Mark Hill. Krumbah died in the store, and Hill was wounded after being shot three times but survived.

While Kelly was arrested 11 hours after the shooting, the legal proceedings against him have been on hold since Feb. 23 when defense attorneys asked to have his competency evaluated.

Kelly has yet to enter a plea to the charges of first-degree murder and attempted for degree murder.

Hospital evaluators determined that he likely has delusional disorder, though the psychologist did not rule out that Kelly is putting on an act.

The disorder is treatable through use of anti-psychotic medications.

They asked for 90 days of treatment for the man, who has adamantly refused to cooperate, even to answer questions. Kelly has rejected anything stronger than a multivitamin during his time at the Medical Lake facility.

He also has expressed doubts about whether the punishments that he could face as a result of the shooting are real.