Man pleads guilty to murder in connection to Newport News dentist's death

Posted at 11:36 AM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 16:26:36-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The man charged in connection with the homicide of a local dentist has pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder.

In June 2019, Newport News Police, in conjunction with the Hampton Police Division, arrested Kelly Michael Vance. Vance, a Navy veteran, was originally charged with first-degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection with the death of 65-year-old Dr. William Trolenberg.

On June 19, 2019, police responded to the area of Huber Road and Jefferson Avenue in reference to a shooting.

Officers arrived at the scene to find Trolenberg, suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound, right outside his vehicle in the parking lot outside Deer Park Dental. Medics took him to a local hospital for treatment, but he later died.

Trolenberg was the lead dentist of Deer Park Dental, according to the practice's website.

On Tuesday News 3 was present in court when Vance pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The courtroom was filled with about 25 people, some very emotional.

He made a deal that if he plead guilty and confessed a motive, his charges would drop to second-degree murder. His motive will not be given until September 2.

News 3 spoke with Connie Soles, a former patient of Dr. Trolenberg, who says she is still in shock.

When asked how important it is to know the motive of this tragedy, she responded "Oh my goodness, I'll dream about it every night...the not knowing part is the worst thing of all."

    According to the evidence presented by the prosecutor in court on Tuesday, Vance walked into the dentist's office asking if they covered a certain brand of insurance.
    According to the evidence presented, security footage from a detached garage of a nearby home that looked into the parking lot captured the shooting. The video shows Dr. Trolenberg being shot as he falls out of the car door. He then tries to crawl away before he is shot again.

    The autopsy report later revealed he was shot in the head twice.  

    The prosecutor said several pieces of evidence identified Vance including additional security footage and eyewitnesses that saw him run away.

    Evidence later recovered at Vance's place of residence included three trash bags that contained damp muddy clothing believed to be from that day, a revolver, cartridges, and a book bag with ammo in it. According to the prosecutor, 14 of Vance's fingerprints matched the prints on the trash bag.

    The prosecutor also stated that Vance's cellphone location data puts him in the area of the dental office around the time of the shooting.

    Trolenberg's daughter, Kristel Hacker, provided News 3 with this statement after Vance's guilty plea:

    "We want to express our relief about the guilty plea and our longing to understand why he committed this horrendous crime. If anyone has any further information to help us understand please call Newport News Police Department."
    Kristel Hacker

    Vance is set to appear in court on September 2 for sentencing. He is facing five to 40 years in prison for this charge, with no possibility of parole.