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West Palm man sentenced to 3 years in beating of disabled former PBSO deputy

Palm Beach Post - 1/19/2019

Jan. 18--WEST PALM BEACH -- A West Palm Beach man convicted of robbing and beating a man with disabilities in his home in April 2017 was sentenced Friday to three years in prison.

Dewayne Kelley, the victim, is a former Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy with multiple sclerosis and the younger brother of Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley. He was knocked unconscious during the attack, which took place at his West Palm Beach home.

DeAndre Bell, 20, was found guilty in December by a six-person jury of abuse of a disabled adult and theft.

Jaianna Seaborne, Bell's attorney, asked Circuit Judge Caroline Shepherd to sentence her client to three years of probation, while Assistant State Attorney Bryan Poulton requested that Bell go to prison for three years, followed by two years of probation.

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Shepherd followed the prosecution's request, ruling that Bell's actions required that he serve time in prison

"The level of violence in this case was significant." Shepherd said. "There were a number of violent strikes on Mr. Kelley, who is significantly disabled."

Kelley's ability to defend himself during the attack was "negligible," Shepherd said.

"All he could do was maybe raise his hands to defend himself," Shepherd said.

Kelley attended the sentencing hearing, sitting in a motorized wheelchair toward the back of Shepherd's courtroom.

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During opening arguments in the three-day trial last month, Bell's attorney said the attack had nothing to do with robbery, but took place after Kelley allegedly made "unwanted advances" toward their client.

Bell, who had just turned 19 in April 2017, was walking in the area of Presidential Way and Congress Avenue, near the Palm Beach Outlets, when he crossed paths close to midnight with Kelley. The two men chatted and at some point the older man asked the teen to come back to his home, according to multiple accounts.

After the men were inside Kelley's home, Bell picked up a can of Lysol and sprayed it into Kelley's eyes. He then began beating Kelley, who testified he spent several hours unconscious at St. Mary's Medical Center.

Bell told a West Palm Beach detective that "defense mechanisms" kicked in after Kelley, who was 56 at the time, asked Bell if he wanted to lay down with him and touched him inappropriately.

During Friday's sentencing, Bell apologized to Kelley, saying he was now "at a point in my life where I realize what I did was wrong."

"I feel like I should get a second chance because I do have a future and people depending on me," Bell told Shepherd.

Shepherd's sentence will allow Bell to move into a boot camp setting if he completes a year in custody without any missteps. Upon completion of the boot camp program, the rest of Bell's sentence would be served on probation. Bell was sentenced as a youthful offender, which will allow him to get help such as mental-health treatment and counseling while he is incarcerated, Poulton said.

"The judge reached an appropriate sentence that takes into account of all the different aspects that need to be addressed," Kelley said. "I'm happy with the outcome. I would like to see him get his life straightened out."

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