Brandon man gets life in prison for girlfriend's murder

- In the courtroom galley Friday sat two emotionally broken fathers, just across from each other -- one shedding tears of relief; the other, tears of anguish. 

But defendant Michael Clark showed no emotion when the jury found him guilty of arson and the murder of Kristen Kelley, the mother of his children.  

Prosecutors said Kelley and Clark had a volatile relationship that turned deadly last October on Kelley’s 34th birthday. A video of Kelley’s last moments alive shows Clark grabbing her arm and dragging her towards him, but she pulls away.  Hours later, Clark beat Kelley to death and then burned her body in his van to cover it up. 

Moments before the sentencing, Kelley’s father Kenneth urged the judge to lock Clark up for life.

"I want to know that the defendant will never see the light of day because my daughter will never see the light of day," Kelley sobbed.

Kelley's mother Joanne asked for the same thing, "that the defendant be given the maximum -- the  absolute maximum.”

Clark never spoke and neither did his family, but Hillsborough Circuit Judge Samantha Ward did. "Count one, murder in the second degree, you’re sentenced to life in the Florida state prison.”

The sentence was followed with thank-you hugs by Kelley's family to the team of Sarasota County detectives and prosecutors that made it possible.

Up Next:

Up Next

  • Brandon man gets life in prison for girlfriend's murder
  • From war to whiskey, former Green Berets will open St. Pete distillery
  • Florida Poly hopes to change future of transportation with new research center
  • Tampa's flood control canal gets 50-year checkup
  • Power outage reported at Busch Gardens
  • Teacher accused of hiding cameras in changing rooms since 2017
  • ER nurse arrested after driving car into pond, child unharmed
  • Pinellas nonprofit steps in when no one else will
  • Man sentenced for assault on elderly woman
  • Completion of research facility marked with dance party at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital