Testimony begins in 2010 JC murder case

Defense attorney Jan King, right, talks with defendant Keith Kellner during Kellner’s trial Monday at the Cole County Courthouse.

Defense attorney Jan King, right, talks with defendant Keith Kellner during Kellner’s trial Monday at the Cole County Courthouse. Photo by Stephen Brooks.

The first day in the trial of a Jefferson City man accused of killing his wife in December 2010 saw testimony from family and co-workers, who said he constantly threatened the victim and that she was living in fear prior to her death.

Keith Kellner, now 49, is facing first-degree murder and armed criminal action charges in the death Pam Kellner, while she was working at the McDonald's Restaurant on Jefferson Street.

Cole County Assistant Prosecutor Anji Gandhi said Pam was trying to get out of the marriage at the time she was killed.

Gandhi said Pam had moved out of the home she shared with Keith a few days prior to the shooting, which infuriated Keith.

Gandhi said Keith sent numerous threatening text messages, including one that said: "The only way out of this relationship is dead."

Keith and Pam worked together at the Missouri Department of Revenue's Motor Vehicle License Bureau, and co-workers testified that Keith would never let Pam go anywhere without him, even getting up to follow her when she just left her desk to go to another part of the office.

The night before the killing, Keith had tried to follow Pam after she left the office, but Pam was able to lose him.

Keith's lawyer, Public Defender Jan King, argued that Keith had been depressed and on the night of the killing had gone to the restaurant to kill himself, not Pam.

King said Keith had his hand on the trigger of the gun in the pocket of his coat while the two were talking at the restaurant.

He said Keith intended to put the gun against his own head but, as he was taking the weapon from the pocket, he hit the table and the gun went off, with the shot striking Pam.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.

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