WEEKI WACHEE — John Kelly lightly touched the left side of his face Wednesday as he spoke for the first time about the ambush in 2007 that left him near death.
His attackers beat him with metal rods, shattering most of the bones in his face. His left cheek is still concave below the eye socket, held together with metal wire and mesh. "His whole face is science fiction," said his brother, George Kelly.
A day earlier, a jury found one of his attackers guilty on three of four charges. It brought the case closer to an end, with sentencing coming next month.
Kelly, known by many in Hernando County as "the walker" for his penchant to stride for miles along local highways, wants to see a lengthy prison sentence for his attacker.
"I'm going to try to get on with my life," said Kelly, 50, as he stood in the front yard at his brother's home, where he lives.
The jury on Tuesday acquitted Jamie Lynn Tyson of attempted felony murder. But the 18-year-old still faces a life prison sentence on charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and tampering with evidence.
State sentencing guidelines will likely set the minimum punishment at five years in prison.
Tyson refused to testify against co-defendant Michael Vann, forcing the prosecution to drop charges against the 24-year-old convicted felon.
"It hurts that I had to let (Vann) go," Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee, the supervising prosecutor in Brooksville, said Wednesday.
The only evidence tying Vann to the Sept. 19, 2007, attack along Cortez Boulevard is the testimony of Anthony Hawkins, 18, the alleged lookout who received a lenient sentence in exchange for his testimony.
Barbee will ask Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing to give Tyson a lengthy sentence, 30 to 40 years behind bars at a minimum.
George Kelly said he was surprised by the verdict after listening to hours of conflicting testimony and alibis. But like his brother, he wants the max.
And George Kelly told his brother, "John, your walking days are over."
"Who says they are?" John Kelly asked.
"Me, John. I just say that because I love you. I don't want you to get hurt again."