STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (21Alive) - An unsolved 1989 murder is now a closed case. Friday, the suspect in Todd Kelley's stabbing death admitted he killed the 19-year-old on August 9, 1989 in Hamilton Lake.
Although Mahfuz Huq will go to prison the victim's family isn't resting easy. Things were said on the record in court that left the victim's family heartbroken.
The Kelley's spoke exclusively with 21Alive's Stephanie Parkinson, and explained why the day Huq admitted he killed their loved one was tougher than they ever thought it would be.
Huq eluded U.S. authorities for more than two decades. Friday, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, as part of a plea agreement. In court that day, he was also able to describe his version of the events that happened August 9, 1989 in the small Steuben County lake community.
"We've been victimized by him with the murder. We've been victimized by him from fleeing the country, and being cowardly for 22 years, and we're not going to stand by and let him drag Todd's name through the mud right now," said Shannon Kelley, Todd's Sister.
According to the Herald Republican, in court Huq claimed Todd Kelley pulled the knife first, and the two got in a fight. Witnesses in the courtroom say Huq also claimed he was stabbed by Todd Kelley. But the family says that doesn't match the evidence in the case.
"I mean the story he told is like he fabricated it to basically appease his family, and his brothers and friends that he didn't really do this on purpose," said Vern Kelley, Todd's Father.
"Because we're not going to trial a lot of that information doesn't need to come out. That's what I feel. So he could pick pieces of it that he wanted to tell. That's what I feel, he kind of piecemealed a story together to make it fit the new charge," said Shannon Kelley.
Huq's account of what happened in August of 1989 may not sit well with the Kelley family, but going to trial with a 24-year-old case could have been a gamble.
"We did almost everything you could think of to get to this point, and for us to throw it away, and take a chance, it's not worth it. One in the hand is worth two in the bush. So at least we get him behind bars. We've very fortunate after this length of time," said Vern Kelley.
Vern says every day he still thinks about his son.
"I pray every night. I talk to him every night. And I don't know what he would say. I would hope he would say, you know, you all did a good job, as good as you could do," said Vern Kelley.
Huq remains in jail in Steuben County awaiting his April sentencing date. He faces between 20 and 50 years.
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