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Father agrees to plead guilty but mentally ill in death of Nakota Kelly, records show

Agreement would require Anthony Dibiah received mental health treatment while serving prison sentence
Nakota Kelly.jpg
Posted at 11:19 AM, Sep 25, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS —An Indianapolis man has agreed to plead guilty in the death of his 10-year-old son Nakota Kelly, court records show.

Anthony Dibiah has agreed to plead guilty but mentally ill to a charge of murder in Nakota's death, according to a plea agreement filed Monday by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

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Nakota Kelly

Under Indiana law, a defendant found to be guilty but mentally ill must be provided mental health treatment either in the Department of Correction or another state facility. They still serve the prison sentence like any other offender.

Nakota, who lived with his mother in Wabash, was on a court-ordered weekend visit when prosecutors say Dibiah smothered the boy to death on July 18, 2020, and fled the state. Police arrested Dibiah the next day in Missouri, according to court records.

Police found evidence, including hair, blood smears and brain matter in Dibiah's Indianapolis apartment, but they never found Nakota's body.

More: The last visit: Nakota Kelly's short life ends in violence at his father's home

Hayley Kelly, Nakota's mother, said she has mixed emotions about the plea agreement. She's glad the case may finally be resolved, but said she's disappointed that the plea deal doesn't require Dibiah to tell what happened to her son's body.

Hayley Kelly stands in her son's bedroom, which hasn't changed much since 10-year-old Nakota Kelly last slept here a year ago. Nakota was allegedly killed by his father during a weekend visit in July 2020. Anothy Dibiah has been charged with murder in Marion Superior Court.

"It's been hard, not having like, proper closure. We are getting a tombstone for him, so I'm hoping that helps a little bit," Hayley Kelly told WRTV. "But it's not the same as having a body and being able to say goodbye."

Even though there's no body, Kelly said she is working with a Wabash funeral home to make a grave marker for Nakota. The monument will be shaped like a baseball, Nakota's favorite sport.

Dibiah signed the plea deal, records show, but it is not official until it is accepted by a judge. A hearing on the plea agreement has not yet been set. Dibiah's trial was scheduled to begin next week.

In April, Kelly filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Child Servicesfor its failure to protect her son despite repeated claims that he had been abused or neglected by his father.

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Anthony Dibiah

Read the WRTV exclusive Nakota's story:
Part 1 | Love and lies: How a single mom from Wabash fell in love with a man with five names;
Part 2 | 'Unsubstantiated': DCS investigated at least five abuse complaints against Nakota Kelly's father;
Part 3 | The last visit: Nakota Kelly's short life ends in violence at his father's home

More: 'If they had just listened to Nakota': Mom sues DCS for failing to protect Nakota Kelly | Trial delayed for man accused of killing his son Nakota Kelly | Dad accused of killing Nakota Kelly claims police search was illegal, wants evidence suppressed | IMPD justified in searching apartment of father accused of killing Nakota Kelly, court finds

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at or on Twitter: @vicryc.