Jonathan Kelly given 75-year sentence for McGruder murder

Jonathan Kelly will likely never be a free man again after he received a 75-year sentence Friday morning for the shooting death of Jenni McGruder in 2017 at the Seminary Street Pub.

A jury in February convicted Kelly of first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

The Knox County State’s Attorney recommended an 85-year sentence, while the defense asked for the minimum 45 years.

Judge Scott Shiplett handed down a sentence of 40 years for murder, 25 years for a firearm attachment and the maximum allowed 10 years for unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon; for a total of 75.

Kelly would be over 100 years old before he could be released.

Shiplett went for the maximum on the felon possession of a weapon charge, saying that was the first step toward murder.
The Judge says he hopes the verdict provides some comfort to the Howe and McGruder families but adds that Kelly’s crime still haunts the community.

“That bullet left a scar on the City of Galesburg, and there’s a wound on the City of Galesburg and on Knox County that’s not healed yet,” Shiplett says. “I understand that when people pass that alleyway to do this day they can’t help but stop and think about it.”

A victim impact statement was read by Jenni’s widower, Michael McGruder, who recounted the days following that shooting, in which he cared for and tried to explain the situation to their two young children.

McGruder read as Kelly looked on, “…the devil in you that night destructed my family.”

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