O'Kelley Trial: Defendant's Father Takes the Stand

On Thursday, O'Kelley was convicted of murdering Susan Pittman and her 13 year old daughter.
On Thursday, O'Kelley was convicted of murdering Susan Pittman and her 13 year old daughter.

The trial of a Savannah man convicted of murdering a Chatham County woman and her daughter took a different turn on Saturday. The jury is deciding Dorian O'Kelley's fate. Jurors spent hours listening to evidence about his past, but things got emotional when O'Kelley's father took the stand.

Before the jury can decide if Dorian O'Kelley should live or die, O'Kelley's lawyers want them to consider his troubled childhood. O'Kelley was convicted Thursday for brutally murdering Susan Pittman and her 13-year old daughter, Kimberly, and setting their Whitfield Avenue home on fire on April 11, 2002. O'Kelley's father, John O'Kelley, testified he barely knew his son. Since Dorian was a baby, he's only seen him five or six times. The last time was in 1995. Dorian was in 10th grade and just got out of psychiatric hospital for trying to commit suicide.

"I didn't know what kind of medication to prescribe him," explained John O'Kelley. "I didn't know his background. I didn't know what treatment he needed."

His father said Dorian was doing drugs and fighting at school. He even suspected him of devil worship.

"It was scary," said John O'Kelley. "Students and parents were calling the school complaining."

After only a month, O'Kelley's father put Dorian on a bus back to his mother's house in Savannah. O'Kelley sobbed through much of his father's testimony. He didn't have a happy childhood.

"The home was filthy," stated Susan Conley, a child advocate from Texas. "(there was) no electricity. There was food rotting in the refrigerator and freezer."

Other witnesses testified O'Kelley's mother neglected him and they said her second husband abused the family.

"She alleged that he had been abusive physically, mentally and sexually to her and her first son, Dorian," said Charles Grimm, a legal aid lawyer from Texas.

While it's obvious O'Kelley had a rough time growing up, prosecutors question how bad it really was and they say it's no excuse for murdering a mother and daughter.

O'Kelley completely broke down during his father's testimony. At six-thirty, the judge called a recess for the day. O'Kelley's father will be back on the stand when the trial resumes Sunday afternoon at 1:30.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com