Keith and Misty Kornegay, the White Springs, Florida, parents of two daughters who shot their teen brother to death in January, avoided jail on child abuse and neglect charges when they took a plea deal and were sentenced Wednesday to two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation in a horrifying and tragic case involving allegations of incest, sexual abuse, and brutal child abuse.
The case, according to an investigation by WJAX-TV News, also raised serious questions about the Florida Department of Children and Families, and how it responded to the Kornegay family which had a history of sexual and other abuse.
In fact, an uncle in the family, Kevin Kornegay, is currently serving a life prison term for sexually abusing the Kornegay’s daughter Ariel when she was 11 years old and younger. According to Columbia County Sheriff’s reports revealed by the Florida Times-Union newspaper, Ariel told investigators that her uncle forced her to perform oral sex and other sexual acts on him — acts which he videotaped over a period of almost two years.
And then seven months after the arrest of Kevin Kornegay, sheriff’s deputies were again called to the Kornegay home because Ariel was engaged in sexual acts with her older brother Damian. The police reports said that the incestuous activities “started with Kevin,” according to one of the children.
It was Ariel Kornegay who, with help from her 11-year-old sister Nicole, shot Damian Kornegay in the neck with her parents’ 9mm handgun, killing him, back on January 5.
The Kornegay parents had been accused of imprisoning their 15-year-old daughter Ariel in an empty bedroom for weeks on end with nothing but a bucket to use as a lavatory, which they later explained to investigators by saying that the teen girl had such behavioral issues as “talking back” and stealing.
When the supposed behavioral issues began and whether they were connected to the prolonged sexual abuse of Ariel by her uncle was not specified in police reports.
When Keith, a 37-year-old long-haul trucker, and his wife Misty, 33, went on the road together — as they did on January 5 — they left 16-year-old Damian with the key to the bedroom prison. According to a neighbor who spoke to the Times-Union, the children were often left alone by the Kornegay parents, and loud, profane arguing could be heard coming from inside the home.
After the Kornegay couple — who also have a three-year-old girl — left the house that day, Damian locked his sister in the bedroom, letting her out only to use the bathroom, but forbidding her to take a shower. But when Damian fell asleep, Nicole Kornegay took the bedroom key and released her sister, who then broke into her parents’ bedroom, found their loaded 9mm gun, and used it to shoot Damian.
The two girls then left the house, leaving their three-year-old sister alone with the body of their dead brother for about four hours.
Taking into account the history of abuse in the family, prosecutors charged Ariel only with burglary and she was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty. Nicole Kornegay was not charged with a crime.
Keith and Misty Kornegay were scheduled to go to trial in December on felony abuse and neglect charges. But they accepted a plea agreement that allowed them to avoid going to prison and serve the first two years of their probation under house arrest.
According to a WJAX report, their daughter approved of the house arrest sentence, because she wanted Keith and Misty Kornegay to “know what it’s like to have your home be your prison.”
[Featured Photo By Columbia County Sheriff’s Office]