LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County judge sentenced a 26-year-old Groveton man to 16 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison for stabbing another man in the neck during a racially charged brawl at Lufkin Lanes in April 2012.
Brian Keith Kelley appeared in Judge Barry Bryan's 217th Judicial District Court for a sentencing hearing Monday morning. He pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated assault in April, and the judge ordered a pre-sentencing hearing.
During Monday's hearing, Kelley took the stand in his own defense. Kelley was originally scheduled to have his sentencing hearing on July 29, but he was a no-show, and Bryan issued an arrest warrant. At Monday's hearing, Kelley claimed he no showed because he did not have transportation.
Officers with the Live Oak Police Department arrested Kelley on May 1, 2012, and charged him with aggravated assault.
Lufkin Police spokesman Det. J.B. Smith gave the Trinity County Sheriff's Office credit for the arrest. Smith said the LPD requested the office locate and arrest Kelley after believing he was there. However, the office linked Kelley to an address in Live Oak. Live Oak Police arrested him shortly thereafter.
Police requested the warrant following the investigation into an April 21, 2012 confrontation between two groups of people which ended with William Chunn being stabbed in the throat.
According to the police report, officers were dispatched to a disturbance involving a stabbing in the 900 block of South Chestnut Street around midnight, Saturday, April 21, 2012. While en route to the scene, officers were advised that possible gunshots had been fired. When they arrived on the scene, officers were told the suspects had just left the scene. The vehicle described to officers was located by another responding officer just a short distance away, and it was stopped.
Inside the bowling alley, officers found Chunn with an apparent stab wound to the neck. Officers secured the scene, and the victim was transported to Woodland Heights Hospital by Lufkin Fire Department EMS.
Officers gathered from victim and witness statements at the scene that an argument erupted between two groups of intoxicated people over a racial comment that was made by someone in one of the groups. The verbal argument escalated into a physical altercation out in the parking lot. Officers say it was reported that it took everyone several seconds to realize that Chunn had been stabbed to the front left of his throat during the confrontation.
Preliminary investigation at the scene revealed that a handgun had been displayed after the stabbing had been discovered. However, no shots were fired
At the time of report, Chunn was to taken by Life Flight to Hermann Hospital in Houston.
During testimony at the sentencing hearing, Kelley claimed that his actions were done out of self defense after he claims Chunn grabbed his mother around the neck.
Kelley would plea with Judge Berry Bryan for the minimum sentence.
"I feel horrible for the action I did," said Kelley. "Ihave a girlfriend with two kids. I'm trying to get my life right."
A different story was told by Chunn and his friends who were with him at the bowling alley.
Chunn claims that one of his friends came back inside after a racial slur was shouted at him by Kelley.
"We went outside when we thought the other party had left," said Chunn.
"I was stabbed from behind on the neck, said Chunn. "As soon as I was stabbed everyone dispersed."
Chunn's wife Tracy told Bryan that the incident all started outside when Kelley's mom confronted her.
"She called me a (expletive) lover and all other names," said Tracy. "I didn't have a chance (to tell her anything), she was in my face and it was on.
Tracy said she never saw William get stabbed. It was not until after everyone left that she saw any signs of blood.
"I looked back and saw Will covered in blood," said Tracy.
After the sentence was handed out, Chunn told The East Texas News that he is lucky to be alive and his struggles after the stabbing have not gone away.
"For seven months, I didn't have a voice at all," said Chunn. "The left side of my voice box is permanently paralyzed. I still have problems with my throat, and it is problems I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life. This is not something that is just going to fade away."
During the closing testimony, Prosecuting Attorney Elmer Beckworth played a taped interview between police and Kelley, where Kelley seemed to be apologetic and wanted to give Chunn a sincere apology.
After the hearing, Kelley refused to give an apology to East Texas News. Chunn said that after hearing the sentence of 16 years on his 35th birthday, an apology was not needed.
"I don't really need an apology," said CHunn. I think being here today and getting the sentence that he got will be fine with me."
Beckworth said the District Attorney's office is looking over the issue of Kelley not making his July court appearance, and where to go with it.