Surprise plea in Mercer County murder

MERCER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Behind flowery trees sits the Herrington Lake house that was once home to John “Bud” Dacci and his wife Maryann. It was here on a cold and dreary day in December 2010....that Dacci was murdered...and his wife Maryann was shot multiple times.

“To my knowledge no one knows other than that they were former business partners and they split,” said former neighbor Avery Hill of the still unknown motive to the violence.

James Kelley was charged with murder following a massive manhunt that ended when Kelley shot himself in Richmond. Tuesday, he couldn't explain his actions for the judge.

“I guess the facts show what has happened. Although I don't remember it, because of my head injury,” said Kelley during his change of plea hearing in Mercer Circuit Court.

Kelley entered an Alford plea, meaning he knows there's plenty of evidence against him.

With the plea deal, Kelley avoids the death penalty, which would have been possible if his case had gone to trial. But he will still serve life in prison. He will serve 20 years on the other three charges of assault, robbery and burglary. All charges are concurrent.

A large group of family and friends gathered outside the courtroom. No one wanted to talk about what they had just seen. But Ashley Camp resident Avery Hill has fond memories of his former neighbors.

“He was a great fisherman and he loved this lake. He and Maryann are wonderful people...wonderful neighbors,” said Hill.

His attorney said Kelley's only request was that he be transferred to the prison that will hold him as soon as possible.

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