Fr. Steve Kelly Sentenced to 33 Months

Fifteen supporters in a carefully Covid masked and distanced courtroom witnessed Father Steve Kelly receive a sentence of 33 months today. After a 20 minute delay to get the telephone conference line working and properly muted 160 people listened in to the proceedings on the audio link.

Fr. Steve’s sentence falls at top of his proposed guidelines but will nevertheless allow his release from the Glynn County Detention Center where he is presently being detained 30 months after the action. He has accumulated sufficient good time during his incarceration to cover the remaining three months. He still has a probation violation from a prior arrest and it is not yet known what will happen with that and if he would have to be transported to court in Washington State.

Judge Wood held up a 7 inch thick sheath of hundreds of letters she had received in support of Fr. Steve and said she had read and considered all of them. However, she then proceeded to rule against all the arguments he had submitted disputing the probation department’s assessment of his record and their recommendations for a substantial sentence. She ruled that the activists had shown disregard for human life by entering a deadly force zone and failed to show acceptance of responsibility. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $33,500 restitution “jointly and severally” with the other defendants. Fr. Steve had earlier submitted a presentencing statement in which he told the court he would not agree to any conditions of probation or restitution. Judge Wood did not address this statement.

Read presentence statement:

Watch Dennis Apel reading it outside courthouse :

Fr. Steve’s character witness, Dennis Apel from Santa Maria, CA, who has known him for many years and participated in numerous protests together strongly condemned the US court system for maintaining idolatry to the Pentagon. By using in limine motions to so broadly limit what Plowshares activists can say in court the “whole truth” which the witness’ oath demands is impossible to express. (Full text follows below)

The prosecutor, Greg Gilluly, expressed horror at property destruction by the defendants while remaining deeply oblivious to the threat of total global destruction by Trident’s nuclear weapons. He argued that people who attack naval bases and destroy property are not peaceful protestors and must be  punished and deterred. He asked for the high end of the guidelines for Fr. Kelly who he said has been arrested 20 times over 20 years.

 Patrick O’Neill will be sentenced tomorrow, Friday, October 16 at 1pm EDT

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The other four defendants, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy, and Carmen Trotta, are now scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 12 and 13, with Covid conditions possibly causing further postponements. Liz McAlister was sentenced to time served via video from her home in Connecticut in June. She had served 17 months in the Camden and Glynn County jails. She also received similar probation and restitution requirements.

This sentencing took place almost a year since their conviction on three felony and one misdemeanor charge and nearly two and a half years since the nuclear disarmament action of the Kings Bay Plowshares. On April 4th, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the KBP7 entered the Kings Bay Trident nuclear submarine base in south Georgia to spotlight the extreme illegality and immorality of the omnicidal weapons based there.


We understand that many are struggling financially at this time. We ask for donations only if you are able and doing well. Thank you for all the support you have given through these past two and a half years. Your support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding the seven co-defendants while in prison and their families and communities. Checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Or donate online here at this link:
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Dennis Apel’s statement to the court in support of Fr. Steve Kelly
I was asked by Fr. Steve Kelly to be a character witness at his sentencing. While I am more than honored to do so, I want to be clear regarding my intent. I am not trying to affect the sentencing. My fantasy would be to have Fr. Steve’s character precipitate a conversion among those present in the courtroom. As anyone who has been involved in this case is aware, if you believe that Steve Kelly is operating from deeply held convictions and a radical faith in the gospels, he is a prophet. If you don’t believe him, he is just an opinionated criminal. As someone who knows Steve well, I assure you that the first assessment is the truth and the second is false.
I am no stranger to the typical U.S. courtroom where the “law” is treated as God while justice takes a back seat; where even the most fundamental morals are ignored for the sake of upholding the system designed to maintain idolatry to the Pentagon; where witnesses are sworn in with the admonition “to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God” and then essentially gagged in front of a jury of their peers through motions In Limine, denied the ability to speak the truth about why they did what they did, the horrors they are confronting and the spirituality behind their actions. Prosecutors assume the role of protecting the military as if the most powerful military in the history of humankind were not able to protect itself. Prosecutors assume the role of establishing the motives and character of those they designate as criminals and of whom they haven’t the slightest clue regarding their true character or motivations. Nor do they care to learn because, in our system, character and motives are irrelevant. The character of the accused is no more relevant to the purpose of the law than is the will of God. Entire careers and livelihoods are based solely on convictions and sentences. In what kind of system could a person with the spirituality, conviction and love of God’s children that Fr. Steve Kelly has, be dismissed as a criminal and left to languish for two and a half years in a county jail, while his basic message is expunged in the courtroom; the message that the most horrific and abominable weapons designed by human technology, weapons that have and will visit unfathomable horrors on the children of God and likely exterminate God’s creation, are allowed to exist and proliferate while the most basic of reasonable detractors are gagged and put away. As Steve often reminds us, “When the nuclear holocaust comes, it will be completely legal.”
Fr. Steve Kelly is a man of deep faith who speaks truth to power and accepts the consequences. That is his character. Any other assessment of his character is false. I know this because I have known Steve for decades. He has spent more than 10 years of his life behind bars, giving up the warm embrace and camaraderie of loved ones as well as the comforts of a truly-accessible easy life, to instead speak the truth that God sees nuclear weapons as an abomination. I defy anyone in this courtroom to make a case for a God who embraces weapons of indiscriminate destruction and human misery. It’s not complicated. We who accept nuclear weapons are wrong, wrong, wrong. Fr. Steve just says that with his life and body. That is his character. He has taken up his cross to follow Jesus, pure and simple. We dismiss that fact at our own peril.
So, the question before this court is, “What to do with Fr. Steve Kelly; what is the proper punishment? What shall we impose so that he and others of his ilk are deterred? How can we maintain the order and protect the military from those like Fr. Steve who may want to shine a light on a crime infinitely more serious than trespass and vandalism, namely the extermination of the human race?” The answer is, it doesn’t matter the punishment. Steve will accept it and continue his prophetic mission. The question ought not to be how to punish Steve but rather what is it going to take for those who have ears to hear but cannot hear, and eyes to see but cannot see, to give up their idolatry to weapons of mass destruction and turn toward the God of love; to once and for all beat their swords into plowshares and study war no more? My advice to those in this courtroom is to take an honest look at the true character of Fr. Steve Kelly and to try emulate it rather than defile it. Or don’t.
Patrick O’Neill Speaking After Sentencing of Fr. Steve Kelly



Festival of Hope Webinar with the Kings Bay Plowshares 7- Sun. Oct. 11, 2020
In preparation for sentencing, Kings Bay Plowshares codefendants and supporters gathered virtually because of COVID limitations. It features several of the KBP7 and fellow Plowshares activists Steve Baggarly, Susan Crane, Marsha Timmel, and words from Fr. Steve Kelly, read by Felice Cohen-Joppa, and others.