The Texas couple who spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime they said they did not commit had their day in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On May 20, the highest criminal court in the state threw out the 1992 sexual and satanic assault act convictions against former day care operators Dan and Fran Keller.
In December, Breitbart Texas reported on the Kellers, whose convictions were heavily based on the testimony of therapists who helped three youngster recover allegedly repressed memories of sadistic and subversive sacrifices performed at the Kellers’ Austin home-based day care. The couple was accused of dismembering babies, torturing pets, desecrating corpses, videotaping orgies and serving blood-laced Kool-Aid in devil worship rituals.
The Kellers were released from prison in 2013 when it turned out that the only physical evidence against them – was discredited.
On Wednesday, KXAN-TV Austin reported that the Keller’s attorney Keith Hampton was surprised that the Court “didn’t address the overriding claim on innocence.”
Said Hampton, this ruling will now allow the Travis County District Attorney’s office to officially dismiss the case, which he expects them to do, according to KXAN-TV. Hampton agreed that dismissal is a step in the right direction, however, he also plans to fight to exonerate the Kellers.
“I can take it to federal court, but there are some procedural complications I’ll have to mull over,” said Hampton. “Second option: to bring it back to the Criminal Court of Appeals. Third option: District Attorney can also agree to their innocence, which they haven’t done before.”
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped short of exoneration, something the couple desperately has sought to clear their names.
Exoneration is not so easy to get. As noted in the earlier Breitbart Texas article, it requires introducing unquestionable new evidence that proves innocence, even though it has since been established that a medical expert provided false testimony in the Keller case.
In 1992, Dr. Michael Mouw was a young emergency room doctor with little experience in examining children for abuse; yet, he examined the youngsters in question and then testified against the Kellers claiming that internal lacerations on one child were evidence of alleged sexual and/or other improper misconduct.
In court documents filed later in 2013, however, a much more seasoned Mouw stated what he thought were lacerations were actually normal physiology. This disclosure was what prompted prosecutors in Travis County to agree that the case’s evidence was faulty and they released the Kellers on bond.
According to KXAN-TV, a judge who issued the concurring opinion referenced Mouw in her closing statement. She said, “If he is to be blamed for the failure to provide applicant with a fair trial, the missteps of other persons and entities need to be examined also. We do not learn from our mistakes unless and until we are required to acknowledge those mistakes.”
Prior to that revelation, the Kellers were denied parole several times up to the point that they were freed. Their marriage collapsed under the strain of their tragic circumstances and they divorced while in prison. They have always maintained their innocence.
Last winter, Travis County prosecutors agreed to ask the court to throw out their convictions because the “doctor’s mistake denied them a fair trial in 1992.”
Between 1984 and 1989 an estimated 100 people nationwide were charged with ritual sex abuse and 50 of them were put of trial, noted Debbie Nathan of the National Center for Reason and Justice, which works to free those wrongly imprisoned, the UK Daily Mail reported.
Like the Keller case, the McMartin preschool scandal panicked a Southern California beach community in 1983. It was, perhaps, the most famous of the modern day pre-K witch-hunts where sadistic and sexual accusations flourished. McMartin lead to a six year investigation. In 1990, all charges were dropped for lack of any wrongdoing.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.