HARRODSBURG — With a legal challenge cleared, the murder case against James Michael Kelley is moving forward as a capital case.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Bottoms filed “a notice of aggravators” last week that will allow him to seek the death penalty against Kelley if the suspect is convicted of the 2010 murder of John “Bud” Dacci.
“At this point, we want all options on the table, including the death penalty,” Bottoms said Wednesday.
In the notice, Bottoms states he intends to prove Kelley is guilty of first-degree burglary and may prove first-degree robbery, aggravating factors needed to increase murder from a Class A felony to a capital charge.
Kelley, 52, of Lexington allegedly drove to the Dacci home on Herrington Lake in December 2010, forced his way in and opened fire on Dacci and his wife, Maryann Dacci.
Bud Dacci died, but his wife, who also was Tazed, survived the shooting and called 911. Kelley then fled.
With a manhunt on, Kelley shot himself in the head the next day in the parking lot of Pattie A. Clay Hospital in Richmond, severely damaging his mental functions.
Mercer Circuit Judge Darren Peckler initially ruled that the brain injuries rendered Kelley incompetent to stand trial but left open the option of revisiting the competency issue at a later date if Kelley showed signs of recovery.
In March, after listening to testimony from two psychologists who had examined Kelley, Peckler determined he had improved enough to aid in his own defense and declared him competent for trial.
Kelley’s attorney, public defender Susanne McCollough, filed a Writ of Mandamus with the state Court of Appeals challenging Peckler’s competency ruling, asking that the matter be heard before trial.
The appellate court, however, ruled last month that any challenges that arise could be addressed after the trial, allowing the case to move forward.
The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13, at which time a trial date could be set, though Bottoms said an undisclosed plea deal remains on the table and Kelley still could enter a guilty plea.
A motive for the attack still hasn’t been uncovered, Bottoms said Wednesday. Kelley and Dacci were partners in a heating and air conditioning business in Lexington but parted company on good terms years before the shootings and remained friendly.