Deandre Kelley: Dad accused of killing Shanti Lanza in drunken shooting spree can't go to funeral

Judge, prosecutor concerned about vigilantes

CINCINNATI – Worries about vigilante justice prompted a judge to bar a dad accused of killing his 11-year-old daughter during a drunken shooting spree at their home from going to her funeral.

At an emotional court hearing Thursday, an assistant prosecutor argued that people are so enraged by the slaying of Shanti Lanza that someone might try to attack Deandre Kelley if he were allowed to leave jail.

And Judge Nadine Allen worried out loud about the large number of people with guns in the community where the services are scheduled.

"There's a lot of people that quite frankly want a piece of Mr. Kelley and I think it would put any sheriff's deputies that had to take him to any kind of service in a lot of danger that's unnecessary," assistant prosecutor Mark Piepmeier said.

"Secondly, I think he forfeited the right to grieve for his daughter when he took her life." 

"This is not going to be in the safest community," Allen said. "It would have been better off if it wasn't Riverside, but the location of the funeral home is in a place where a huge percentage of individuals have guns."

The judge said Kelley must "mourn symbolically."

The girl's mother, Kristina Lanza, sobbed loudly after the decision. She wanted Kelley to attend the funeral, saying the shooting was an accident.

But prosecutor Joe Deters condemned the idea after bringing more charges against Kelley Thursday morning.

Deters also released more disturbing details about the shooting and blamed the girl’s mother for dropping three previous domestic violence charges against Kelley.

Deters said Shanti was hiding from her drunken father in her upstairs bedroom when he wildly fired the shot that killed her.

"This is the end of the road for this enabling," Deters said. "He needs to be in jail and the rest of them should be looking in the mirror for the reason this little girl is dead.”

Kelley faces up to 17 years in prison if he is convicted of all charges, Deters said. Kelley pleaded not guilty at the hearing.

Here are the details of the shooting released by Deters:

> About 8 o’clock Saturday night, Kelley and Lanza argued because he brought a gun into the Sedamsville home where they lived with Shanti and her siblings. More children were there having a slumber party.

> Lanza ordered Kelly to leave and he went drinking with a friend.

➢ When he returned at 3 a.m  Sunday, Kelley was drunk and had the gun. Kelley knocked on the door and the kids, who were watching TV on the first floor, let him in. Lanza was upstairs asleep.

➢ As Kelley walked in, he turned and fired a shot out of the front door. Shanti ran upstairs to tell her mother about the gun, and Lanza came downstairs and ordered Kelly to leave.

➢ As Kelley was leaving, he fired two more shots. One hit Shanti in the upper torso as she hid upstairs.

Shanti died later at Children’s Hospital.

Deters said Shanti's parents shared the blame for the circumstances that led up to the shooting.

"Kelley had three prior domestic violence charges involving the victim’s mother which were dismissed for want of prosecution when the victim’s mother failed to appear in court," Deters said.

“There has been a lot of public discussion that the “system” failed this family. This defendant has been charged with domestic violence three times and was never convicted because the witness would not cooperate. Now, in an incredibly senseless act, he has killed his daughter and the mother wants him to attend the funeral."

It's not uncommon for a judge to grant a prisoner's request to pay last respects to a family member, but a prisoner is usually not allowed to go to public services. In most cases, the prisoner gets a private viewing at the church or funeral home while in handcuffs and accompanied by sheriff's deputies.

"We usually provide transportation and security," Jim Knapp of the sheriff's office said. "We follow the judge's order."

Services for Shanti are Saturday at Riverside Academy School, where she was in fifth grade. Visitation starts at 10 a.m. followed by a service at noon,  then burial at Spring Grove Cemetery.

JC Battle and Sons are handling arrangements. Mourners can leave condolences on their website.

An indictment announced Thursday charged Kelley with:

> Involuntary manslaughter (Felony 1).

> Reckless homicide (Felony 3),

> Endangering children (Felony 3)

> Having a weapon under disability (Felony 3).

The disability is based on a conviction in Kentucky for possession of cocaine.

Kelley remains in jail on a $500,000 bond.

READ MORE: Deandre Kelley, Shanti Lanza's father, arrested in daughter's homicide
Friends and family gather to honor 11-year-old girl shot and killed Sunday  
INTERACTIVE MAP: Cincinnati's homicide rate

WCPO reporter Amy Wadas obtained the 911 calls made when Shanti was struck with the gunfire. Dispatchers heard heart-wrenching cries for help on the other end of the line as Shanti's cousin tried to describe the tragedy. The dispatcher had difficulty in understanding Shanti's cousin's words.

"Ma'am, I need you to take a breath and tell

me where she (Shanti) is," the dispatcher said. "Can you give the phone to someone and I can give them CPR instructions?"

A neighbor across the street also called the emergency into a different dispatcher.

"The people across the street are screaming ... there are gunshots going off," the neighbor told the dispatcher.

"Did you hear how many shots?"

"Three or four," the neighbor answered. "People screaming like crazy."


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