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Appeals court to decide if child molester's conviction stands


By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) - Patrick Kelly has served almost two years of the life sentenced to which he was sentenced--the punishment handed down by a Smith County jury for his role in the Mineola child sex club cases.

Houston's 14th Court of Appeals is now reviewing Kelly's case.  Oral arguments were heard, yesterday.

Attorney Wes Volberding is handling Kelly's appeal.  Wednesday, he provided KLTV with an audio recording of a conversation between the swinger's club owner, Russ Adams, and Wood County investigators.  During the recording, Adams states he'd never seen Patrick Kelly, nor any children,  nor any of the other Mineola child sex club defendants at his swinger's club.   Adams stated he'd made that known to Smith County prosecutors prior to the taped July 29, 2008 conversation. 

Volberding said it was never disclosed to the defense that the previous conversation ever took place.

"The [Smith County] D.A.'s office believed [Adams] and let him go and then discouraged him from being contacted by anyone," said Volberding.

Volberding alleges the Smith County D.A.'s Office concealed other evidence which was later discovered by the Wood County D.A.'s Office.

Wood County D.A. Jim Wheeler filed a brief with the appeals court, Tuesday.  In it, Wheeler  alleges Smith County prosecutors were aware of taped CPS interviews with some of the child victims who claimed they'd never been molested.  

Volberding said information about John Cantrell - the victims' foster dad - and child molestation charges he faced out of California were also, "allegedly concealed."

"The judges are deeply concerned that the D.A.'s office in Tyler may be misleading them," said Volberding.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said the allegations are just that:  allegations.

"I think Jim Wheeler is as big a part of the defense team as Wes Volberding, or Thad Davidson," said Bingham.

Bingham also showed KLTV 7 documents - letters he'd written to Wheeler, transcripts from court hearings, and even emails from the Kelly's trial attorney, to the Wood County D.A.

"We must think of the Mineola sex cases as being war and the D.A.'s office are the Nazis and the Japanese," Bingham read aloud.

Bingham said it's all proof the "alleged concealed" information was not concealed by his office, but, rather, from his office.

"Jim Wheeler is giving this information to the defense and never notifying us that it exists," he said.  Bingham was referring to a police report filled out in May 2008 by the Mineola Police Department.  The report referred to John Cantrell's California sexual abuse case.

Bingham then produced a letter from his office to the Wood County office dated June 2008, in which he requests a copy of the report because he, himself, was unaware that it existed.  The only reason he knew was because the defense attorney mentioned it during a pre-trial hearing.  

"I'm an aggressive prosecutor of those people that hurt children...why [Jim Wheeler] is not, I don't know," said Bingham.

Kelly's fate is now in the judge's hands.  The appeals court is expected to decide the case within the next two to three months.

We contacted Jim Wheeler's office for a comment.  He faxed us a statement declining to give one.

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