Texas Execution Information Center

Alvin Kelly

Alvin Andrew Kelly, 57, was executed by lethal injection on 14 October 2008 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder and robbery of a couple and their baby in their home.

On the morning of 1 May 1984, the bodies of Jerry Morgan, 30, his wife, Brenda, 25, and their 22-month-old son, Devin, were found in their Gregg County home by family members. Each victim had died from gunshot wounds. Jerry Morgan was shot in the chest several times. Brenda Morgan was shot once in the back. Devin was shot once in the face. In addition, their car had been stolen, along with several items from inside the home, including a television, videocassette recorder, and several guns.

The murders remained unsolved for six years. In 1990, Chris Vickery called the Gregg County Sheriff's Office and told them that his former wife, Cynthia Kelly, had information for them. After authorities contacted Cynthia in Michigan, they obtained an indictment charging her ex-husband, Alvin, in the 1984 triple homicide.

At Kelly's trial, his younger brother, Steven, testified that he and Alvin were in the business of selling drugs. Their source of drugs was a man named Walter Shannon. Several days before the murders, Alvin, then 33, and Steven Kelly drove together with Ron Wilson, 27, another drug dealer, to the victims' home. Steven testified that when they arrived, Alvin ordered him to stay in the vehicle. Disregarding that instruction, Steven walked around to the back of the house because he heard an argument. He observed Alvin pointing a gun at a man and threatening to kill him. Alvin then noticed Steven watching and angrily ordered him back to the vehicle. As Steven returned to the vehicle, he heard Wilson arguing with a woman inside the home. Alvin and Wilson then returned to the vehicle. As the three men drove away, Wilson said to Alvin, "I told you not to bring him [Steven] because ... we're supposed to take care of some business and ... we didn't take care of it." Alvin responded, "We can always come back later and take care of it ... there's no problem there."

Steven Kelly further testified that on the night of 30 April, Alvin, Cynthia, and Wilson arrived at his house. Appearing nervous and hurried, Alvin said he was in serious trouble and needed some money. Alvin said he had killed the family Steven had seen him threaten, and the child was "involved". Alvin then handed Steven a pistol and asked him for "five hundred dollars to get out of town." Steven gave Alvin the $500, and Alvin left with Cynthia and Wilson.

Cynthia Kelly testified that on the evening of 30 April, Alvin, Wilson, and she drove to the victims' home. She testified that she frequently accompanied Alvin on his drug deals, knew that he carried a gun, and that she also carried a gun to "watch his back", but she was unaware of both the destination and the purpose of this trip. Upon their arrival, Alvin ordered her to remain in the vehicle. While waiting for the men, Cynthia heard gunfire and a baby crying. She then entered the home and saw that Alvin had a woman pinned up against the wall and that a baby was crying. Cynthia picked up the child and shielded him from the sign of his mother struggling with Alvin. Alvin then shot the woman in the back of the neck and dragged her to a bedroom. Cynthia put the baby in a chair and followed Alvin into the bedroom. Alvin placed the woman next to her husband, who had already been shot. The woman begged her for help. She responded by placing a towel under her head. She then returned to the living room and picked up the baby to comfort him. Alvin took the crying infant from her and shot him in the head. He then aimed his gun at Cynthia and ordered her to return to the vehicle. As she exited the home, she heard another gunshot. Cynthia testified that Alvin shot the mother and the infant with the same .22-caliber pistol.

Continuing her testimony, Cynthia said that Alvin and Wilson exited the home with several items including guns, a coffee maker, and some decorative brass butterflies. The two men drove away in the victims' car, while she followed in their vehicle. After wiping the victims' car for fingerprints, they abandoned it in a parking lot in Tyler. Later, while driving, Alvin and Wilson discussed needing money, and the three ended up at Steven Kelly's home.

The state introduced physical evidence corroborating Cynthia's testimony, including the location and position of the bodies in the home, the location of Brenda and Devin Morgan's gunshot wounds, the caliber of the murder weapon, the towel under Brenda's head, and the location of the victims' abandoned car. The state also introduced evidence that Jerry and Brenda Morgan were city marshal reserve officers. The prosecution argued that Alvin's motive for killing the Morgans was that they were providing information to law enforcement.

Cynthia's sister, Violet Brownfield, testified that Alvin Kelly had bragged about killing a family, including a child.

Danny Moore, an acquaintance of Kelly's, testified that Kelly told him he collected debts for a Walter Shannon. He described a job he had done by telling him, "that man, his old lady, and the kid ... they're not coming back." Moore testified that Kelly also said, "There's going to be a lot more people end up like this if they don't pay up."

In his defense, Kelly's lawyers claimed that the victims were killed by an unidentified black assailant. This theory was based on the evidence that two black males were apprehended for stealing a pick-up truck from a parking lot near the victims' abandoned car, and that a necklace recovered from that truck was initially identified as belonging to Brenda Morgan. Additionally, hairs with Negroid characteristics were found in vacuum sweepings from the Morgans' home. The defense claimed that Cynthia Kelly had a relationship with the actual assailant and fabricated her testimony to protect him and/or to spite Alvin.

The state responded to Kelly's defense by introducing an expert in trace evidence, who testified that the hairs with Negroid characteristics found in the Morgan house did not match either of the two black men who were apprehended for stealing the truck, and furthermore that those hairs could have come from a Caucasian person.

At the time of the triple homicide, Kelly had an arrest record for unlawfully carrying a weapon. In the six years between the triple homicide and his trial, he had several felony convictions which resulted in prison time. In September 1985, he was sentenced to 5 years for burglary. He was paroled in March 1986. In February 1988, he was again sentenced to 5 years, this time for delivery of a controlled substance. He was paroled 4 months later, in June. (At the time, early release was common in Texas due to strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.) In August 1990, Kelly pleaded guilty to the murder of his roommate, John Ford, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was serving that sentence when he was charged with capital murder for the Morgan killings.

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