Former Leander High School football star Greg Kelley has always proclaimed his innocence in the case that put him behind bars for 25 years with no possibility of parole.
Kelley, now 22 and serving his sentence at a Huntsville prison, was convicted of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy in 2014 in a case that divided the school and community.
New Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick today confirmed that his office has reopened the investigation and that a new suspect has been identified. Dick, who took office in January, said that the case has been a priority for him since taking office. Dick said that after reviewing ‘credible’ evidence that someone other than Kelley may have committed the assault on the boy, he contacted the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent investigation.
While Kelley has steadfastly maintained his innocence, law enforcement and the prosecutors originally involved in the case have maintained that justice was served.
Following weeks of protests involving thousands of supporters, including Kelley’s former teammates and classmates at Leander High School, concerned citizens and even religious leaders, Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix wrote to Kelley’s supporters in 2014, saying, “I truly feel for the friends and family of Mr. Kelley who cannot bring themselves to believe that he could do such a thing.”
Mannix reiterated his support for the original outcome of the case on Thursday, telling the Austin American-Statesman, “If this is part of that process that is available to Mr. Kelley, so be it. It doesn’t change my opinion of the trial or the outcome.”
Dick also confirmed that the evidence he reviewed in recent weeks was submitted to him by Kelley’s defense team.
Kelley’s conviction hinged on the testimony of the then 4-year-old boy. There was no physical evidence and there were no additional witnesses to the alleged events. A second young boy who came forward during the investigation saying Kelley had also assaulted him recanted his claim during the trial.
A website maintained by Kelley’s supporters states: We believe that the investigation and prosecution of this young man was ripe with mistakes, omissions, and deception.
Kelley’s defense team and his supporters openly challenged the police department’s handling of the interviews of the victim. Even when offered a plea deal before trial which would have included probation with no prison time, Kelley maintained his innocence and refused to plead guilty. He did accept a plea deal during sentencing, after conviction, that prevented him facing a possible life sentence.
Kelley’s team has filed several appeals, none of which have been successful. Last year, the Texas Court of Criminal appeals refused to grant a hearing for a motion for a new trial. All the while, Kelley’s attorney, Keith Hampton, has claimed to have new evidence that would prove Kelley’s innocence.