Coroner: Veterinarian suffered fatal heart attack after attempting to break into Roland’s clinic

The San Diego County Chief Medical Examiner testified Thursday that the 88-year-old veterinarian who died after an attempted break-in into a Rollando clinic died of a stress-induced heart attack.

The testimony was given at the preliminary trial of Patrick O’Brien, who is charged with murder in the death of Clark Kelly, a longtime veterinarian at the Boulevard Animal Clinic on El Cajon Boulevard near 70th Street.

A preliminary hearing in San Diego Superior Court resumes on Friday. At the end of the hearing, a judge is expected to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to stand trial on Mr. O’Brien’s charges.

In court Thursday, Dr. Stephen Campman testified that Kelly died of a heart attack on June 15, 2022, but that his death was classified as a homicide.

“In situations where stress is outside the realm of everyday life, the death can be classified as a homicide,” Campman testified.

During cross-examination, O’Brien’s defense attorney, Peter Will, questioned Campman about Kelly’s history of heart problems.

Mr Campman said Kelly would not have died had it not been for the “sudden event” of the attempted break-in.

Campman testified that Kelly also suffered head injuries from impact with the floor or desk. The coroner said it was not possible to determine whether Kelly was pushed to the ground or fell of her own accord.

O’Brien, 38, was arrested near the clinic. Police say a witness pointed out O’Brien to officers and found him sitting near a trash can about 30 feet from the clinic.

Christian Howard said he was at a nearby store when the woman ran in for help. The woman, who was later identified as Kelly’s wife, was “trying to break into our home,” Howard said.

As Howard and another man walked in, they saw O’Brien outside the clinic. He said O’Brien told the men, “I just bought the place.”

Later, Howard and Kelly’s wife entered the clinic and found Kelly lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

A 911 call Kelly made before she died was dismissed in court. On the phone, Kelly could be heard telling the dispatcher that there was an intruder in the clinic.

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