Greg Kelley took to Facebook on Thursday to blame his trial attorney for failing to represent him well.
In a nearly 2-minute video, Kelley — who is out on bond while appealing his 2014 conviction of super aggravated sexual assault of a child — accused trial attorney Patricia Cummings of failing to have his best interests at heart. He called her ineffective.
“I just spent three years of my life in prison,” Kelley said in the video, which was recorded in a vehicle. “Of course she was ineffective. Patricia, if you’re watching this, I want to let you know I trusted you. I thought you cared about me as much as I cared about you.
“I believe that you worked your investigation around the person that really did this.”
The Facebook video is the latest blow in what has become a roiling dispute over who is at fault for the messy trial that ended with a 25-year prison sentence for Kelley.
Cummings has been accused of having a conflict of interest in defending Kelley because she once represented the family of Johnathan McCarty, a friend of Kelley’s who is considered a suspect in the sexual assault that Kelley was convicted of committing. Kelley remains a suspect in that case, as do McCarty and a third person who hasn’t yet been named, according to a Texas Ranger’s testimony.
Kelley, who said his heart was broken, said he was ignorant about the law for a long time, but now believes that “there was more to it all along.”
Kelley was released from jail Tuesday after a state district judge agreed that his legal representation was “deficient” and that the Cedar Park Police Department had conducted an inadequate investigation into the crime. His case will soon be presented to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will ultimately decide whether to exonerate Kelley or grant him a new trial.
The Facebook video comes as Cummings is fighting back against claims that she didn’t properly represent Kelley, accusing the district attorney, Kelley’s lawyer and a local judge of working against her in secret meetings so she couldn’t defend herself.
In court papers filed in Williamson County state District Court earlier this week, Kelley’s appeals lawyers said that Cummings wrongly allowed Kelley to take the 25-year sentencing agreement without the possibility of appeal. The problem, they say, is that Cummings advised Kelley to take the deal even though the 4-year-old boy he was accused of sexually assaulting never identified him in court.
Based in part on that, state District Judge Donna King granted Kelley bond this week.
But Cummings says that she had no idea she was being accused of poorly representing her client in that manner. In court papers filed Wednesday, Cummings blasted King, District Attorney Shawn Dick and Kelley’s post-conviction attorney, Keith Hampton.
Cummings says she made sound legal decisions, and that King should eliminate ineffective trial counsel from the list of reasons Kelley deserved to be released from jail.
“It is a strange and alarming procedure to conduct substantial discussions that lead to the Court signing these findings in a way designed to hide from the public and press what is actually happening in this case,” Cummings wrote. “If the District Attorneys and (Kelley’s lawyers) believe this is a legitimate claim, they should not be so afraid to deal with it in the usual manner, by obtaining a response from trial counsel and arguing the merits of the claim in open court.”
Cummings said Hampton consulted her on the case in 2014 and told her that the sentencing agreement was a solid choice.
Cummings also says that the law doesn’t require that child victims face their alleged abusers in court.
Hampton dismissed Cummings’ claims and says the dispute is a distraction.
“She’s as wrong on the law now as she was back then,” Hampton said.
Dick, the district attorney, said that Cummings’ filing indicates a “fundamental misunderstanding” about how such proceedings typically work. He said they’re usually all done behind the scenes and that public hearings are rarely conducted. He called Cummings’ assertion baseless and improper.
“The question I have for Patricia Cummings is, is she trying to help Mr. Kelley or hurt Mr. Kelley?” he said. “I have no idea what she wants.”
As for why Kelley’s trial lawyers didn’t investigate McCarty as a potential suspect, a former member of Kelley’s defense team says it was Kelley himself who shut down that line of inquiry.
James McDermott, an attorney who worked on the case with Cummings, said in court documents filed this week that Kelley’s lawyers did try to hone in on McCarty as a suspect, but they couldn’t pursue it because Kelley wouldn’t help them.
“Greg would not participate in any questions about Johnathan, any investigation of Johnathan and defended Johnathan against any theories presented,” McDermott wrote.