- Tony Plohetski American-Statesman Staff, KVUE News
Moments after beginning his first sit-down interview since the release of new revelations in his case, Greg Kelley repeated the position he has taken since a 4-year-old boy first accused him of molestation: that he is an innocent man wrongfully convicted and that he hopes for a sooner-than-expected homecoming.
“I’ve asked God, ‘Why me?’” Kelley told the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV from behind bars Wednesday from the Wynne Unit prison in Huntsville. “I have desire to do good in the world, I want to be a husband and a father with Christian morals and values. I want to shed light on wrongdoing in Texas, and I want to provide hope for the wrongly convicted.”
Four years ago, Kelley was a senior at Leander High School, staying with his best friend, whose mother operated an in-home day care center when the allegations surfaced against him. Today, he is 22 years old — and with new dreams of freedom.
“My hope has skyrocketed that I’m going to be out of here before I’m 44,” he said, referring to his age after he serves his mandatory 25-year sentence.
Authorities say they are still convinced that Kelley assaulted at least one boy, and a jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting the child after a contentious trial in which a second young victim who had claimed Kelley assaulted him recanted. But Kelley has maintained an aggressive pursuit to try to have that conviction overturned, which recently picked up momentum.
In the past week, Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick confirmed that Kelley’s best friend at the time, Johnathan McCarty, is considered a new suspect in the case and is under investigation by the Texas Rangers based on information uncovered by Kelley’s defense. Dick has established an email address for anyone with information to send tips, and Kelley appealed to anyone with evidence to contact officials immediately.
McCarty hasn’t been charged but remains in the Williamson County Jail on probation violations for drug convictions. His bail has been set unusually high at $450,000 while the child sexual assault investigation continues.
Wearing a white prison jumpsuit, Kelley declined Wednesday to discuss his friendship with McCarty. He would only say that after he was sentenced, friends and others began revealing new information to him that indicated McCarty might be responsible for the crime.
Throughout the case, Kelley’s defense has rested on the contention that the child wasn’t assaulted, and he said that until recently he never considered the possibility of another suspect.
“At first, I believed nothing happened,” he said. “But as time went on and everything unfolded, I figured out that wasn’t the case and my mind is completely blown.”
According to court documents unsealed in the case last week, Kelley’s defense attorneys contend they were able to obtain McCarty’s cellphone and that he had photographs of nude children on it. They also said they have at least one person who is willing to testify that McCarty confessed to the crime after Kelley was convicted.
Kelley said he is focused on the future, not the past, but added, “I didn’t have a fair investigation. I believe I was unfairly targeted.” He said Cedar Park police detectives never questioned him before filing charges, although investigators have said Kelley’s lawyer refused to let him talk.
He also added that he thinks jurors who voted to convict him had been on his side but were swayed by others who trusted the testimony of the child.
To police and prosecutors who have said publicly they are confident Kelley was the perpetrator, that the right man is in prison, Kelly said: “All of that will change very soon. At the end of this, there is going to be no doubt about it.”
Before the case erupted and charges were filed against him, Kelley said he had dreams of playing college football and studying business in college. The month before the case began, he said, he had verbally accepted an offer to play at Texas State University.
Kelley said he has spent his three years behind bars taking college classes and continuing to work on his fitness — he helps train other inmates at a prison gym.
But he also said he has spent time on his spiritual life, reading the Bible cover to cover and leading Christian study groups.
He also has maintained friendships with people in the outside world and has visitors every weekend. He’s still in a relationship with his girlfriend, Gaebri Anderson.
“She’s been a faithful woman,” he said, “and we’ve gotten to know what true love is.”
A hearing has been set for Kelley in August in Georgetown. At that time, state District Judge Donna King could decide whether Kelley’s conviction should be overturned and whether he could receive a new trial. Those decisions will be sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which can agree or overturn it.
“I don’t know what freedom feels like anymore,” Kelley said. “I just want to live a life and have a life. I just want my life back.”