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Man 'Participated in His Own Death,' Grand Jury Says

A Northampton County grand jury says Brian Simmons acted in self-defense when he killed Matthew Kelly last year. No homicide charges will be filed.

One night last April, Brian Simmons drove from Bethlehem to Easton to sell drugs. The people he was meeting with planned to rob and possibly murder him.

The drug deal turned into a fight, with Simmons getting stabbed and shot. He ran away from his attackers, emptying his handgun and fatally wounding Matthew Kelly, one of the three robbers.

That's according to testimony given to a Northampton County grand jury, which ruled this week that there was not enough evidence to charge Simmons with criminal homicide in Kelly's death.

"Matthew Kelly participated voluntarily in his own death when he decided to secret himself in darkness and attempt to ambush Brian William Simmons," the grand jury wrote in its report, which was released Friday.

Kelly, 20, of Bethlehem died April 1 following the shootout in the 1100 block of Spruce Street in Easton's West Ward. The case had been before the grand jury since April 5.

In the report, the jury says Simmons had "a reasonable belief" he would be killed or injured when he fired his gun. It also states that the removal of guns and other weapons from the crime scene had prevented police from investigating DNA and ballistic evidence.

Police have said since last year that Kelly planned to rob Simmons at their meeting.

But witnesses told the grand jury Kelly also intended to kill Simmons.

According to the report, witness Aja Knighton testified that after the shooting she spoke with Cathryn Gabrielli, who had been present at the meeting and had stabbed Simmons, who apparently goes by the alias "Forty."

Knighton said Gabrielli, 21, told her they had intended to kill Simmons.

"The plan was for Matthew's girlfriend to tase Forty and they were going to wrap Forty up and kill him," the report says.

Witness Caitlyn Norder said Gabrielli planned to kill Simmons and then "cut his fingers and toes off and take out all his teeth to prevent identification," according to the report.

Both Norder and Knighton testified about traveling to Harrisburg with Gabrielli to dump the weapons.

Gabrielli—who had immunity from prosecution—testified that although the plan was to rob Simmons, Simmons pulled a gun on Hildebrant as soon as he got into the car.

That's when Gabrielli stabbed him. Simmons began firing. She thought she'd been hit, but Simmons had somehow missed. Then Kelly was somehow back in the car, wounded and unconscious, according to the report. She and Hildebrant took him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Simmons told a different story: He pulled his gun after he was stabbed and shot. He testified that it was Gabrielli who stabbed him, and a man standing outside the car who shot him. He was hit in the back by his right shoulder blade.

It was unclear if he, like Gabrielli, had immunity. Simmons was arrested in late January on drug charges in Easton.

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