Posted on February 18, 2015

2 Sentenced in Fatal Playground Beating

Joe LaFurgey, WOOD (Grand Rapids), February 17, 2015

Seventeen seconds.

That’s the length of the cellphone video recorded by a bystander on May 23, 2014 at a Grand Rapids elementary school playground.

That’s the time it took to hurt 24-year-old Scott Simerson so severely that he would die from his injuries three months later.

The attorney for the two adults defendants in the case, Robert Kelly and Donmard White, wanted to give the judge an opportunity to see who did what prior to sentencing, so the cellphone video of the beating was played in court on Tuesday for the first time.

Robert Kelly and Donmard White

Robert Kelly and Donmard White

Both Kelly and White pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case in January.


Simerson had taken some children to play at the Sibley Park playground on that day in May. A teenager allegedly began hassling the younger kids Simerson was supervising. Simerson stepped in and was attacked.

Five punches were thrown in that 17 seconds, at least one by White, then 17.

What appears to be the most violent act captured by the cellphone video was the kick to the back of the head by defendant Robert Kelly.

Simerson sustained severe brain injuries. He died on Aug. 10, 2014, nearly three months after the beating. He left behind a baby daughter, fiancée and 11 siblings.