WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — On Wednesday, Greg Kelley left the 26th District Court an innocent man.
After three years in prison for a crime state judges say he didn’t commit, former Leander football star Greg Kelley is now fully exonerated. A jury convicted him of sexually assaulting a child five years ago but when new evidence and alternate suspects emerged. prosecutors took another look at the case.
“I’ve been dreaming of this day. It feels like the past six years have been a nightmare for me,” said Kelley.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction and District Judge Donna King’s approval was the last step Wednesday.
“I’ve been exposed to the justice system and the flaws in it. I knew that the power of politics could get involved and that’s one thing I feared the most, somebody that was going to get their hand in this that would stop me from going home,” said Kelley.
District Attorney Shawn Dick agreed to re-look at the case when he was elected but he’s disappointed they couldn’t find the guilty party.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get to the ultimate answer to what happened to the child and so this process wasn’t ever going to reveal that,” said Dick.
Kelley for his part has called for the resignation of Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix, who oversaw the officers who originally investigated and made the arrest. A police spokeswoman pointed to earlier remarks from the Chief — saying he has heard the criticism and taken action to address it.
Kelley told KXAN Wednesday he plans on marrying his fiance in January, trying to play football again, and getting involved in the prison seminary program in the days ahead.
Kelley’s attorney plans to pursue compensation for Kelley under the wrongful incarceration act.
Keith Hampton says that includes free tuition to any Texas college, and payment of about $80,000 dollars for each year he spent behind bars — with a small “annuity.” Hampton says the full compensation could be about $250,000.
Kelley was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to 25 years in prison on an aggravated sexual assault against a child charge. However, in 2017 his defense argued another suspect could have been responsible for the crime. Kelley was released on bond pending an appeal when a Williamson County judge declared him innocent.
On Nov. 6, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Kelley’s conviction.
In December of 2017, the Texas Rangers identified three possible suspects. One was a friend of Kelley’s Jonathan McCarty. He was also accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in San Marcos years later. He was found guilty on drug charges and is currently in prison.
That paperwork granting habeas corpus relief was filed Monday, Nov. 25. Also that same day, the Court of Criminal Appeals accepted a request to speed up the process because both the defense and prosecution agreed with its decision to overturn the conviction.