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Minister killing admitted

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Minister killing admitted

Sentencing next month

Wednesday Aug 20 1980

By William B. Treml


The 23-year-old grandson of a world-famous circus clown is to be sentenced in California next month for two bludgeon murders, including the slaying of a former Ann Arbor minister.

Paul Anthony Kelly, whose grandfather, Emmett Kelly, played the clown character “Weary Willie” in thousands of circus performances, pleaded guilty this week to the killings of the Rev. Henry Kuizenga and Brent D. Bailey, a 22-year-old Los Angles antique jewelry dealer.

The plea in the Kuizenga case was to a first degree murder charge while the plea in the Bailey homicide was to second degree murder.

The slayings occurred within a two-week period in and near Oceanside, 40 miles north of San Diego, Calif.

KUIZENGA, 66, former senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church here, was found last Nov. 16 beaten to death in the beach front cottage in Oceanside which he had rented to write a book. The local minister had retired from the Ann Arbor church several years ago to teach at the Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology. He had been retired from that post at the time of his death.

Bailey’s body was found Nov. 4 in a parked car near Los Angles but police said he also was murdered in Oceanside. The murder weapon in both cases was a claw hammer, investigators reported.

Kelly’s guilty pleas came after weeks of pre-trial negotiation between San Diego County Deputy District Attorney George Beall and Kelly’s defense counsel, Thomas Senters.

The defendant had been scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 11 before a jury and Chief Superior Court Judge Michael Geer. The judge had ruled earlier that the murder cases would be consolidated and would be heard simultaneously by the same jury.

Deputy District Attorney Beall said the state decided to accept the plea to second degree murder, a charge reduced from first degree, in the Bailey case because there exists a question of Kelly’s “psychiatric stability.”

JUDGE GEER SAID although psychiatrists had reported Kelly has “psychiatric problems” the defendant was legally sane and able to assist in his own defense in a trial.

The judge is expected to sentence Kelly to a mandatory life imprisonment term for the murders on Sept. 16. After Monday’s hearing Kelly was returned to the San Diego County Jail.

Dick Galinski, a private investigator retained by the Kelly family, said his client lost a leg when he slipped under the wheels of a freight train at the age of six in Alabama. However, the handicap did not prevent Kelly from following in the footsteps of his father, Emmett Kelly II, and his famous grandfather in the circus clown field.

The younger Kelly inherited from his grandfather the registered copyright for the makeup and dress of the “Weary Willie” clown character seen by million of circus goers over the decades. Paul Kelly not only appeared as a circus clown at a young age but at one point was a circus acrobat, investigators said. Kelly’s father still owns and operates the “Emmett Kelly Circus” which is headquartered in Florida.

GALINSKI said his background investigation of Paul Kelly revealed he had served a year in a Connecticut prison after being convicted of assaulting a man with a hammer in Wallingford in 1977.

Kuizenga, a graduate of Hope College who had theological degrees from Yale and Princeton, served in the U. S. Army as a chaplain during World War II. He was a minister at the First Presbyterian Church here from 1952 to 1961 and in 1959 was elected president of the Ann Arbor-Washtenaw Council of Churches.

After retiring and moving to California he returned frequently to Ann Arbor to visit. He last appeared here in August, 1979 when he was guest preacher at the First Presbyterian Church.