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Family reacts to killer’s suicide

Cheryl Hammond says a day doesn’t pass that she doesn’t think of her daughter, Kelli Hammond, 25, who was murdered in 1998 at her Zebulon office. ”She was such a bright spot when she walked into a room,” the still-grieving mom said. “She had such a glowing personality. I knew she was that for us but, until her death, I didn’t know the influence she’d had on so many people’s lives. That’s what hurts so much. What a wonderful life just taken and for no good reason.” Kelli’s killer, Leeland Mark Braley, hung himself early on New Years Day in his death row cell. Cheryl Hammond said Braley had entered his last appeals to avoid execution but she was not upset that he took matters into his own hands. ”We were afraid Georgia would be one of the states that might decide against the death penalty and that could’ve happened at any time,” she said. “It costs the taxpayers money to support death row inmates. Any of them; not just him. The justice system has lost its focus. I don’t know what you can do about it. It just gets worse.” Hammond says Braley was supposed to be in prison when he killed her daughter but was paroled early instead. ”He had about three more years on his term when the pardons and paroles board let him out,” she said. “He had served time in Pike County at the detention center which is an all women’s prison now. He should have still been finishing out his term even as he was doing that to Kelli.”

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