Man charged in November crash that killed sisters in south St. Louis was on pretrial release for several crimes

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2023 at 1:08 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Charges have been filed after two sisters who helped shape lives across the region were killed in a reckless driving crash in South City last year.

DeVonne Wilson, 53, and her younger sister Ayanna Woods, 42, were just minutes from home when a 26-year-old driver speeding on Meramec crashed into the back of their car, sending them into the intersection of Gravois Road. Video from the scene shows the car is nearly unrecognizable. The two women were lifeless when first responders arrived.

The crash happened on the evening of Nov. 21, 2022.

“Just senseless. It’s just heartbreaking,” said Candace Jones, a cousin of the victims.

Wilson worked for more than 25 years at the Wyman Center in Eureka, a youth leadership program where she helped shape the lives of countless teens. She was the senior vice president of programs.

“This is beyond a colleague. This is someone we were really close to, and loved dearly,” said Claire Wyneken, president and CEO of Wyman.

Ayanna Woods was a well-known face at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, working there for nearly a decade.

“Her smile was infectious,” said colleague Danielle Jacobs.

Wyneken told News 4 that Wilson was newly married and has two children. Woods leaves behind two children. A GoFundMe page has been created by coworkers at the Missouri Botanical Garden to help with expenses.

“[Her children] were her whole world, the most important thing to her would be to make sure they were taken care of and they were supported,” said Jacobs.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police would not provide any additional details about the crash. Shortly after it happened, a police spokesperson said the 26-year-old driver had been hospitalized but did not provide an answer on whether that driver would be arrested and charged.

A probable case statement against Kelly obtained by News 4 Monday alleges the women were driving 20 mph as Kelly approached them driving 100 mph in a vehicle that was reported stolen earlier that evening. The speed limit on that stretch of Meramec Road is 30 mph. The statement adds there would have been sufficient space to pass the sisters had the driver been going at a safe speed.

On January 20, St. Louis police told News 4 the Circuit Attorney’s Office had issued at-large warrants against Brian Kelly. He was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and one count of first-degree tampering with a motor vehicle. Three days later, police provided a mugshot of Kelly.

According to the probable cause statement against Kelly, he was on pretrial release at the time of the fatal crash for four other alleged vehicle thefts and seven separate municipal cases in Eureka stemming from shoplifting arrests. The vehicle thefts happened from Jan. 11 through Feb. 15, 2021, and the shoplifting arrests spanned from January 30 through August 2 of that year.

Brian Kelly is facing several charges in relation to a fatal crash on Nov. 21, 2022.
Brian Kelly is facing several charges in relation to a fatal crash on Nov. 21, 2022.(St. Louis Police Department)

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones has promised to take action after a number of fatal wrecks involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. A proposed $40 million bill aimed to address speeding and reckless driving has been introduced to the Board of Alderman. It is making its way through the legislative process.