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Women Sentenced For Bailing Man Out Of Jail And Killing Him

December 17, 1994

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ Two women who were dubbed ″Thelma and Louise″ after they bailed an abusive ex-lover out of jail and killed him were sentenced Friday to at least 20 years in prison.

Both Margaret Kosmin and Tammy Ann Molewicz alleged the other pulled the trigger, and prosecutors say they may never know which one fired the gun that killed William Kelly Jr. last Dec. 27. Both pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

Kosmin was sentenced to 25 years in prison, because she also pleaded guilty to arson and hindering arrest. Molewicz received a 20-year term. Each must serve at least eight years before being eligible for parole.

The women, who had been neighbors and friends for months, admitted scheming to kill Kelly, Kosmin’s ex-lover.

Molewicz alleged Kosmin shot Kelly outside a convenience store after they picked him up from jail. Kosmin’s version was that she was hiding inside their car’s trunk when she heard a shot, and that when she got out Molewicz fired a second time.

The two women put the body in the trunk and drove to Kosmin’s Medford home. The body was later dumped in a forest, where a hunter found it in a cranberry bog. Kosmin set the car on fire.

Kosmin, 33, has said Kelly was killed in retaliation for years of abusing her. When the women posted his $1,000 bail, he had spent eight days in jail on charges of dragging Kosmin by the hair and beating her with a club.

The two women were dubbed ″Thelma and Louise″ after characters in the popular movie of the same name who embark on a cross-country crime spree after one of them kills an attempted rapist.

A defense psychiatrist who treats battered women said Kosmin suffered from a depressive disorder and believed Kelly would fulfill a threat to kill her.

″I am a loving and giving and warm person,″ Kosmin told the judge. ″I gave that love to William Kelly and was abused in return.″

Superior Court Judge Isaiah Steinberg acknowledged that Kosmin was a battered woman, but said he imposed a stiff sentence to deter similar acts by other domestic violence victims.

″We understand the motive for the killing, but that does not excuse it″ said Harold Kasselman, assistant Camden County prosecutor. ″We reject the notion of the Old West - that he needed killing.″

Molewicz, 26, tearfully apologized for her role in the slaying. Her attorney, Robert E. Welsh Jr., said Molewicz agreed to help Kosmin after hearing about the abuse.

″My client was simply attempting to help out somebody in need,″ said Welsh. ″Suddenly what seems like a good idea is take this man out and end it.″

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