Jurors return verdict in Sartin Seafood founder’s murder trial

Published 12:07 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

A jury on Thursday found Kelli Sartin guilty of fatally beating her father with a metal spatula and rolling pin in 2019.

Deliberations lasted approximately three hours following the third day of testimony.

Charles Sartin, founder of Sartin’s Seafood, was found dead in a bedroom of his Sabine Pass house on Sept. 9, 2019. Investigators have determined his death, which was caused by blunt force trauma, occurred on or about Sept. 4, 2019. When found, his body was decomposed, wrapped in a tarp and covered in blankets.

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Kelli Sartin, who has been jailed on a $1 million bond since her 2019 arrest, pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree felony murder.

Testimony included the responding officer, a Port Arthur detective, two family members, Kelli Sartin’s ex-husband and the psychiatrist that found Sartin mentally competent to stand trial while in jail. Video of Kelli Sartin’s statements to police was shown, where she repeatedly said her father had beaten himself during a moment of delirium related to Alzheimer’s.

Toward the end of the video, Kelli Sartin admitted to hitting her father three times.

An autopsy revealed seven broken ribs and a skull fracture.

During early morning testimony Thursday, defense attorney Tom Burbank told psychiatrist Edward Gripon that Kelli Sartin had hit her father in a moment of self defense because he did not recognize her and attacked her.

Gripon said Alzheimer’s patients can be very aggressive.

“You cannot convince an Alzheimer’s patient of anything,” Gripon said. “You can argue with them if you want to, but you’re wasting your time.”

He also said it was unlikely that someone could beat themselves to death. Instead, he said, they were more likely to pass out before the point of death.

The psychiatrist did discuss the depression and mental health toll often suffered by caregivers.

“You’re watching a person deteriorate,” he said.

Jurors are now determining punishment, which ranges from 5-99 years or life in prison.