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Tulsa Murder Victim's Family: "This Judge Is A Murderer Lover"

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19-month-old J.J. Hall 19-month-old J.J. Hall
Larry Neely being escorted by Tulsa Police following his arrest [file photo] Larry Neely being escorted by Tulsa Police following his arrest [file photo]
Tulsa County District Court Judge William Kellough Tulsa County District Court Judge William Kellough

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It is being called a miscarriage of justice; a Tulsa County judge has changed the sentence of a man convicted of killing a 19-month-old boy. 

Larry Neeley will most likely spend less than ten years in prison despite a jury recommendation of 38 years.

Back in October, it took a Tulsa County District Court jury only four hours to convict Larry Neeley of first-degree murder in the death of 19-month-old J.J. Hall. 

The conviction came with the jury's recommendation of a life sentence with parole and meant Neeley would have spent 38 years in prison.

But Thursday morning, Judge William Kellough overruled the sentence; now Neeley could spend less than a decade in state prison. 

J.J.'s family had hoped his killer would spend decades behind bars as the jury recommended. Now, they say, the justice system has failed.

"It's not fair, it's just not fair. He gets ten years and I don't get my baby ever again," said Sarah Marquez. 

Sarah is J.J.'s mother. 

She was overcome with grief Thursday after the judge's decision was announced. 

Her 19-month old son was killed after he was slammed against a bedroom dresser in August 2008. Larry Neeley was dating Marquez at the time and was the only adult home. 

12/2/2009 Related story: Tulsa Judge Considering Reducing Sentence In 19-month-old's Murder

Judge Kellough cited a state law that allows him to override a jury's recommendation in a unique case. He said the sentence should be reduced because Neeley was remorseful; he didn't have a history of violence against children, and that the death was not caused by anger or rage.

J.J.'s family couldn't believe the decision and says the judge has let them down. 

"This judge is a murder lover. He's destined to set loose every murderer that comes in his courtroom," said Clifford Weber, J.J.'s grandfather. 

"Point is - he hurt him, whether intentional or accident," said Sarah Marquez, J.J.'s mother. "He's gone; he's dead. I don't get him back. It's a little late for sorries and 'oops,' and 'I feel bad.'"

The D.A.'s office respects Judge Kellough and calls him a good judge. But they believe, the sentence was not strong enough.

"I've got to disagree with Judge Kellough in that I believe that J.J.'s life is worth more than the 12 years he prescribed," said Assistant District Attorney Jake Cain.

A message left with the judge's office was not returned, and we were unable to get a comment from Larry Neeley's family.

 J.J.'s family says they will devote their lives to changing the law that allowed the judge to overturn the sentence recommendation.

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