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Bodybuilders Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan Sentenced for Murder

Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan took a plea bargain regarding the death of their former personal assistant Melissa James, 29, of Lambertville, N.J.

In February 2008, Anthony Gross, Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan's accomplice also pleaded guilty in the Melissa James murder case. 

Craig Titus Sentencing 

Craig Titus, 44, pleaded guilty on May 30, 2008 to second-degree murder, kidnapping and arson. The plea allowed Craig Titus  to avoid trial and avoid the death penalty.

Craig Titus received a sentence of 21 to 51 years. Craig Titus will not be eligible for parole until 2026-12-23.

Kelly Ryan Sentencing 

Kelly Ryan pleaded guilty to arson and Nevada’s equivalent of no contest to battery with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 6 to 26 years. The plea allowed Kelly Ryan to avoid trial and avoid the murder charge.

Kelly Ryan is serving her sentence at Florence McLure Women's Correctional Center in Nevada. Kelly Ryan will be eligible for parole as early as 2111.


The Melissa James Murder

Prosecutor Robert Daskas said Melissa James was beaten, drugged, stunned with a Taser, injected with morphine and strangled before she was “burned beyond anybody’s recognition” in the trunk of Ryan’s Jaguar.  James’ head was encased in duct tape, and showed the court graphic photos of a “death mask” formed by her face when it peeled away with the heavy tape during her autopsy.

Daskas said investigators could never say for sure whether James was still alive in the back of the red Jaguar caught on videotape outside a Wal-Mart – where Ryan bought charcoal starter fluid and a backyard barbecue set at 3:30 a.m. – or at a gas station where Titus, Ryan and a friend, Anthony Gross, allegedly bought another $2.66 worth of gasoline. The barbecue set was later found burned in Ryan’s car. Gross met CraigTitus and Kelly Ryan at the gas station and drove them back to Las Vegas after they set Kelly Ryan’s Jaguar ablaze in the desert outside Las Vegas. 

Kelly Ryan Statement

Ryan stated the following in court, “I am truly, truly sorry,” Ryan said. “I know I did not kill. But I did aid in the events. I know I was not in a state of mind emotionally or physically to make the right decisions or to, oh God, to take appropriate control of what was happening.”

Craig Titus Statement

Craig Titus said, “I am ashamed and sickened of my actions after Melissa (James) passed away. I let drug use get way out of control in my home,” he said. “I failed my wife. I failed my family. And most regretfully, I failed Melissa (James), who was my friend.”

Craig Titus Appeal

In December 2008 Craig Titus made a request for a sentence reduction which District Judge Jackie Glass denied. Craig Titus is currently serving his sentence at Ely State Prison, Nevada's only maximum security prison.

Anthony Gross, Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan's Accomplice Pleads Guilty

In February 2008, Anthony Gross, Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan's accomplice pleaded guilty in thanthony_gross Mug Shote Melissa James murder case. Gross plead guilty to accessory to arson and accessory to commit first degree arson. The two are both felony charges.

If Gross successfully completes his probation, Gross will be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea to the two felony offenses, plead guilty to the gross misdemeanor charge of Conspiracy to Commit 3rd Degree Arson and receive credit for time served. If Gross doesn’t complete the probation the two felony charges will remain.

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