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Man charged in beach beating death turns himself in, neighbors ‘shocked’

James Malecek

James Malecek

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Updated: July 8, 2011 2:22AM



Neighbors of a Lake View man charged in the beating death of a Beverly teenager on an Indiana beach said they were “shocked’’ by the allegations against the recent Loyola Academy graduate, who turned himself in to authorities Thursday.

James K. Malecek, 19, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated battery and battery in LaPorte County, Ind., in connection with the death of Kevin Kennelly, 17, of the 9900 block of South Damen, said Robert Sulkowski, Long Beach police chief marshal.

Malecek was released after posting a $25,000 cash bond.

Kennelly died Wednesday at a Crown Point hospital from injuries he received in a fight Monday with Malecek, police said.

An autopsy Thursday by the Lake County, Ind., coroner determined the cause of death was “blunt force trauma to the head.” The coroner has ruled the death a homicide.

Sulkowski said Thursday that what initially was called a brawl was more of a fight between Kennelly and Malecek.

“There was no brawl. It was a fight between two people. Somebody hit someone,” Sulkowski said.

He declined to say what started the fight.

“All these crazy stories we’re hearing are just that, crazy stories,” Sulkowski said.

Neither Malacek nor his relatives could be reached Thursday.

But neighbors on the 3800 block of North Marshfield where he lives in a two-story brick home with a neatly landscaped front yard said that Malacek, who went by “Jake,” was friendly with neighbors and helped out around the block. They said he was a recent graduate of Loyola Academy who planned to go to college in Texas in the fall.

“Jake is a great kid from a wonderful family,” said neighbor Cathleen Casey-Romo, who said his family had lived in the area for more than a decade.

“I’m sorry for the family. My heart goes out to them. I live with my father, who’s been very ill, and Jake and his family have been very supportive.”

She said he played hockey and golf and is “very athletic.”

Said another neighbor: “I’m shocked. He’s a really good kid. He has promise. He’s always smiling and walking the dog. He’s enterprising. He shoveled walks in the winter.”

Kennelly, who would have been a senior at Mount Carmel High School this fall, played for the varsity soccer and baseball teams.

Baseball team captain Chris Sujka said Kennelly was a good teammate who was “always getting involved in some way,” even if he was not playing.

“He would keep score during the game and stuff like that, the little things that go unnoticed by the guys there on the field,” Sujka said.

Sujka said Kennelly epitomized the team’s motto: “All about team.”

“He wasn’t worried about playing every day or complaining and moaning about playing time. He was worried about being out there with his teammates,” Sujka said.

He was surprised to hear Kennelly died from injuries received in a fight.

“When I heard that he got into a fight, I said ‘That’s not Kevin.’ There’s no way he would have gotten into a fight,” Sujka said.

Bob Stachler, a security guard at Mount Carmel who knew Kennelly, said he “was a nice kid. That’s why I can’t understand this. He’d never confront anybody.”

Visitation for Kennelly is from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Mount Carmel Convocation Center, 6410 S. Dante. A funeral mass will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Barnabas Catholic Church, 10134 S. Longwood Dr. Burial will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Contributing: Casey Toner



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