Dontae Callen was sentenced to death for three murders and is still on death row in Alabama. According to court documents, Dontae Callen will murder 59-year-old Bernice Kelly, his 33-year-old cousin Quortes Kelly and 12-year-old Aaliyah Budgess, and then set fire to the house. Dontae Callen will be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
Evidence from New York State often indicates that emergency workers were dispatched to Bernice Kelly’s apartment at around 4:00 am on October 29, 2010, in response to the 911 emergency call, claiming that her apartment had a fire. Lieutenant Warren Calvert, a member of the Birmingham Fire Department, testified that his unit was the first to arrive at the scene and he observed smoke coming out of an apartment on the lower level.
He said that he went to the apartment and tried to open the front door, but it was blocked. (R. 442.) Lieutenant Calvert stated that he pulled the body of an unconscious woman from behind the door and was able to enter and search the apartment because, he said, people shouted that there were more people in the apartment. He found another body in the bathroom, a young woman, and he took her out of the apartment.
Lieutenant Calvert said that at that time, another firefighter called him to stop because he was covered in blood. He further testified that a third body, a man, was also found in the apartment. After they discovered that the victim was covered in blood, Lieutenant Calvert said that they called the police station. Lieutenant Fitzgerald Mosley, a fire investigator in Birmingham, testified that he had investigated the fire and that the fire was not accidental and had multiple origins. He further testified that when the firefighters arrived, Bernice’s body was on fire and they had to put out the fire to remove her body. Bernice was still alive and was taken to a local hospital, where she died later that day.
Dr. Gary Simmons, a forensic pathologist at the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office, testified that Bernice Kelly was stabbed 18 times in the upper body and died of multiple sharp wounds; Quortes Kelly was stabbed 33 times in the upper body and died in many cases. Sharp trauma; Aaliyah Budgess was stabbed 25 times in the neck and head and died of multiple sharp traumas. None of the three victims had carbon monoxide in their lungs. Lisa Brown-Bernice’s daughter and Kurtis’ sister-testified that Bernice was Karen’s aunt, and Kurtis and Alia were Karen’s cousins. Brown said that Aaliyah and Bernice live together so that she can go to a private school in the area, and Quortes also lives with Bernice.
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Bernice’s sister Faye Budgess testified that on the evening of October 28, 2010, she watched TV with Quortes, Callen and Aaliyah at a neighbor’s house. She said Quortes, Callen and Aaliyah left around 10:00 in the evening. Go back to Bernice’s apartment. Bagis said that Karen had been living with Bernice a few months before the murder.