Jonathan Kelly sentenced to 75 years in prison


UPDATE: Jonathan Kelly was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the April 2018 murder of Jenni McGruder in Galesburg, Local 4 News’ Kelley Bowles confirmed Friday.


Guilty of first degree murder. That’s the decision a Knox County jury reached against Jonathan Kelly late this afternoon.

It only took the jury about an hour to reach a guilty verdict for the murder of Jenni McGruder last Easter.

The defense only presented two witnesses — and Jonathan Kelly did not testify on his behalf.

Local 4 News covered the trial from the beginning and spoke to Jenni’s widow Michael McGruder at the start of this trial and he told us all he wanted was a conviction. 

Today, he and all those who loved Jenni McGruder heard the word they’ve waited nearly a year for: Guilty.

The courtroom burst into tears and applause as the jury read Kelly’s fate.
By unanimous decision, Kelly was found guilty of first degree murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and aggravated discharge of a weapon. 

Jurors heard passionate closing arguments from both sides.

The defense argued there was reason to believe there could have been a second shooter that night. 

But despite the defense’s efforts, her loved ones got what they fought for: Justice for their beloved Jenni. 

“Nothing brings her back,” Michael McGruder said. “Everybody in this courtroom as you can tell… everybody wants her back and misses her dearly. But it’s the closest thing we can get and I’m just I’m happy, I’m satisfied, I’m just.. I’m excited but at the same time you still have those negative emotions, I’d trade her in for a 45 to life sentence for him any day.” 

Kelly is headed back to the Knox County Jail until his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for May 10. 


Jonathan Kelly found guilty of first degree murder of in the shooting death of Jenni McGruder.

Kelly also was found guilty of aggravated discharge of a firearm and going armed with intent.

Sentencing will be held May 10 at 9 a.m.


Kelley Bowles is providing live updates from the murder trial of Jonathan Kelly, who has been charged in the shooting death of Jenni McGruder on Easter morning.

Follow Kelley on Twitter for updates or watch her timeline below.


It was another full courtroom today for the Easter morning murder trial in Galesburg.

It’s continuing coverage of a trial we’ve been bringing you live updates on from the start.     

Jonathan Kelly is charged with first degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Jenni McGruder.

McGruder was leaving a bar in the early morning hours of April 1 when she was shot and killed.

Yesterday, jurors heard powerful testimony from witnesses that included McGruder’s husband Michael and a friend.

Today, witness testimony continued and now the jury has heard from three people who put Kelly at the scene that morning.

All fingers were pointed at Kelly today as the state called some of their key witnesses to testify.

One of the most notable was Leonard McGee, who says he helped Kelly flee the scene of the crime and the state presented surveillance video they say backs McGee’s testimony. 

The courtroom sat in silence for about 40 minutes watching unedited surveillance video of the Motel 6 in Davenport where McGee says he bought Kelly a room and gave him a flip phone after the shooting. 

He also placed Kelly at the bar when the shots rang out, saying he saw Kelly jump out of a white van and fire 2 to 3 shots into the crowd. 

The jury then heard a similar testimony from two other men at the bar that night — Doug Bailey and Gregory Bridges — both saying they’re confident it was kelly who pulled that trigger. 

“He proceeded to jump outside the van and started shooting toward the north of Main Street,” Bailey said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Mr. Kelly shot the two to three rounds.” 

“It’s this guy right here,” Bridges said. “I noticed that he was kind of…like this… and he kind of shuffled around to the front of the van and that’s when I noticed his arm came up and extended.”

The trial is expected to pick up where it left off on Monday morning, starting with the final witness testimony.


Kelley Bowles is providing live updates from the murder trial of Jonathan Kelly, who has been charged in the shooting death of Jenni McGruder on Easter morning. 

Follow Kelley on Twitter for updates or watch her timeline below.


It was a packed courtroom today as the trial for the man accused of killing a Galesburg woman rolled into its third day. 

The jury heard opening statements and testimony in the case against Jonathan Kelly.

Kelly’s accused of killing Jenni McGruder on Easter morning.

The 26-year-old was shot in the head in the parking lot outside a bar.

Prosecutors laid out the case they will try to make about what happened that morning. 

Today’s testimony wrapped up at the Knox County Courthouse a short time ago.

It was an emotional day in the courtroom where friends and family of McGruder could be heard holding back sobs as prosecutors recapped the at times graphic details of the night she was killed.

Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer kicked off opening statements recounting the alleged events of that night — at one point describing Jenni as a  “completely healthy, young, woman at the prime of her life.” 

Defense attorney Mike Bianucci pointed to the size of the crowd, the lighting of the parking lot and asked the jury to keep in mind that witnesses were coming from a pub in the early hours of the morning. 

Today jurors heard from Jenni’s mother, Vicki Howe, as she held back tears identifying her daughter as well as responding officers.
The day wrapped up with the two powerful testimonies from Jenni’s widow, Michael McGruder and Quincy Morrison, a friend who was with the couple when the shots rang out. 

Morrison also knows Kelly, who he referred to as “John John,” claiming he saw Kelly run from the scene and looked to be putting something on his right side but couldn’t say it was a gun. 

Today Michael McGruder described the moment that changed his life forever.

“I felt it. I felt it close to my head so the first thing I did was I got up and started touching myself to make sure I was okay,” McGruder said. “And then once I realized I was actually still alive I turned and looked for Jenni. I just started yelling for her to get up, she wasn’t responding.”

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday with more witness testimonies.


The trial for the man accused of killing a Galesburg woman is under way.

Jonathan Kelly, 29, is on trial for the murder of 26-year-old Jenni McGruder.

McGruder was shot and killed in a parking lot early Easter morning in Galebsurg.

Jurors listened to opening statements before hearing emotional testimony from McGruder’s mother. 

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