Texas Ranger slams Cedar Park's probe

Law­man: Kel­ley, McCarty are among 3 sus­pects in case.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Tony Plo­het­ski and An­drea Ball tplo­het­ski@states­man.com aball@states­man.com

In strik­ing tes­ti­mony Thurs­day, a Texas Ranger said he has iden­ti­fied three sus­pects in the child sex­ual as­sault case that led to Greg Kel­ley’s con­vic­tion and 25-year pri­son sen­tence.

One of those sus­pects, he said, is Kel­ley.

An­other is Johnathan McCarty, who pros­e­cu­tors have pre­vi­ously named. Ranger Cody Mitchell said on the stand that he didn’t want to name the third sus­pect be­cause his in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­mains ac­tive.

Mean­while, the 2013 Cedar Park po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sex­ual abuse case was han­dled so badly that Mitchell said it ac­tu­ally fright­ened him, if he him­self were to be ac­cused of a crime.

“I would be scared to death to think that I could be in the same po­si­tion,” he said.

Ba­sic el­e­ments of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion — such as vis­it­ing the site of the crime, tak­ing pic­tures, in­ter­view­ing pos­si­ble wit­nesses or look­ing for cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence — were miss­ing. Know­ing some­one could be charged, tried and im­pris­oned based on such min­i­mal ev­i­dence is dis­turb­ing, he said.

Thurs­day was the sec­ond day of hear­ings dur­ing which Kel­ley’s lawyers hope to prove their client is in­no­cent or de­serves a new trial. The pro­ceed­ings will con­tinue at 9 a.m. Friday at the Wil­liamson County Jus­tice Center.

Kel­ley’s lawyers are try­ing to con­vince state District Judge Donna King that Kel­ley was wrong-

fully con­victed. King will then make rec­om­men­da­tions to the Texas Court of Crim­i­nal Ap­peals, which will ul­ti­mately de­cide Kel­ley’s fate.

Pros­e­cu­tors from the district at­tor­ney’s of­fice have been present to lis­ten to ev­i­dence and ask ques­tions. But at times, those pros­e­cu­tors have seemed more like de­fense lawyers, at­tack­ing wit­nesses by ques­tion­ing their work and ethics.

DA Shawn Dick has said his team is on a fact-find­ing mis­sion and is just try­ing to get to the truth.

Kel­ley, 22, was ac­cused of mo­lest­ing two boys in 2013. The then-high school se­nior was liv­ing with his friend, McCarty, whose mother ran an in-home day care fa­cil­ity. In July 2013, a lit­tle boy told his mother that he had been abused by Kel­ley. An­other boy soon said the same thing, but he later re­canted.

Kel­ley was con­victed in 2014 of su­per ag­gra­vated sex­ual as­sault of a child and was sen­tenced to 25 years in pri­son.

Since then, his ap­pel­late lawyers have been try­ing to free Kel­ley based on a se­ries of claims. In short, they’re say­ing that the Cedar Park Po­lice Depart­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion was so bad that the trial was in­her­ently un­fair; that Kel­ley wasn’t around the chil­dren enough to mo­lest them; and that a new sus­pect has been iden­ti­fied.

One of their chief com­plaints, also, was that Kel­ley’s trial at­tor­ney, Pa­tri­cia Cum­mings, botched the case. In court Thurs­day, she re­fused to an­swer most ques­tions, say­ing she couldn’t vi­o­late at­tor­ney-client con­fi­den­tial­ity — a po­si­tion that seemed to irk pros­e­cu­tors, who said they just want to find out what hap­pened.

Un­der ques­tion­ing, Cum­mings said that she met Kel­ley though the McCar­tys. Over the pre­vi­ous decade, she said, she had rep­re­sented sev­eral of the McCar­tys in crim­i­nal cases.

Through­out the trial, a num­ber of peo­ple had tried to get Cum­mings to con­sider Johnathan McCarty as a sus­pect, said Tracey An­der­son, the mother of Kel­ley’s girl­friend. But Cum­mings re­fused to go down that road, frus­trat­ing An­der­son, she said.

“She put up her hand in front of my face and said, ‘We aren’t go­ing to go there,’ ” An­der­son said of Cum­mings. “We just aren’t go­ing to take that av­enue.”

Dick sug­gested to An­der­son dur­ing his ques­tion­ing that Cum­mings had to choose be­tween Kel­ley and McCarty.

“She ob­vi­ously chose Mr. McCarty in that choice?” Shawn said. “Yes,” An­der­son an­swered. McCarty’s at­tor­ney, Kel­lie Bai­ley, re­peated to the Amer­i­can-States­man in an interview Thurs­day that McCarty didn’t com­mit the crime.

She said on the day that po­lice think it oc­curred — July 12, 2013 — McCarty was with friends mourn­ing the loss of a friend who died in a car crash a day ear­lier.

“Johnathan was dev­as­tated,” she said. “His par­ents were wor­ried about him be­cause he left the house up­set.”

On that same day, Kel­ley was help­ing his brother’s fam­ily move from Hutto to Oak Hill, tes­ti­mony showed.

Ear­lier in the week, pros­e­cu­tors took aim at the work of Cedar Park Po­lice Depart­ment De­tec­tive Chris Dai­ley, the lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor on the case.

Pros­e­cu­tors crit­i­cized the de­tec­tive for fail­ing to con­duct a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing he didn’t visit the home where the abuse oc­curred, didn’t talk to peo­ple who lived in the house, didn’t iden­tify other chil­dren who might have been harmed and didn’t talk to their par­ents.

Dai­ley re­sponded that he did a good job.

Cedar Park Po­lice Chief Sean Man­nix, who has re­peat­edly said he sup­ports his de­tec­tive’s work, told the States­man on Thurs­day that he will let the ju­di­cial process play out be­fore com­ment­ing on the mat­ter.

RALPH BAR­RERA / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

Pam Dou­glas (right) pins a rib­bon on her daugh­ter, Kylie, in sup­port of Greg Kel­ley be­fore the hear­ing Thurs­day. Kel­ley’s lawyers con­tend that Kel­ley’s trial at­tor­ney botched the case.

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