The Remarkable Exoneration Story of Greg Kelley

Gregory Kelley was a young man whose life was dramatically altered by a wrongful conviction. Before the events that led to his arrest, Kelley was known as a promising high school football player with aspirations that reached far beyond the gridiron.

Born and raised in Texas, a state where football is deeply woven into the cultural fabric, Kelley excelled in the sport from an early age. He attended Leander High School, where he became a standout player on the school’s football team. His performance on the field made him a local star and a hopeful prospect for college football scholarships. Kelley played as a defensive back and was recognized for his athleticism, speed, and competitive spirit.

Off the field, Kelley was described by friends, family, and coaches as a dedicated student and a positive influence in his community. He was known for his work ethic, both academically and athletically, which earned him respect among his peers and teachers. Kelley’s commitment to his sport and his studies was seen as a pathway to a successful future, potentially opening doors to higher education and a professional athletic career.

Kelley’s character was well-regarded, and he was often seen as a role model for younger students. He was involved in community service and church activities, reflecting a sense of responsibility and a desire to give back to his community. His involvement in these activities highlighted a young man who was not only focused on his own goals but also on making a positive impact on those around him.

As a high school athlete, Kelley’s routine was filled with the typical activities of a teenager with big dreams: rigorous training sessions, studying playbooks, attending classes, and preparing for the next big game. He lived with a sense of purpose and determination, driven by the goal of earning a college scholarship and the opportunity to play football at a higher level.

Kelley’s life was deeply connected to his family, who supported his ambitions and celebrated his achievements. They were an integral part of his support system, providing the encouragement and stability that allowed him to pursue his passions. His family’s role in his life would become even more crucial as they stood by him through the ordeal of his legal battles.

The trajectory of Kelley’s life took an unexpected and tragic turn when he was accused of a crime that he did not commit. The accusation not only threatened his freedom but also his reputation, his relationships, and the future he had been working so hard to build. The wrongful conviction that followed would put a halt to his dreams and force him into a fight for justice that would last several years.

Before the crime he was accused of, Gregory Kelley was a young man on the cusp of adulthood, full of potential and promise, with a clear vision for his future. The subsequent events would test his resilience and the strength of his character in ways that few could imagine. Kelley’s story, from a high school football player to a wrongfully convicted individual and eventually to an exonerated man, is a poignant reminder of the fragility of life’s path and the profound impact of the criminal justice system on individual lives.

What Was The Evidence In The Case? 

Greg Kelley’s case is a profound example of the complexities and potential fallibilities within the criminal justice system. His story, which has been widely publicized and was the subject of the Showtime documentary “Outcry,” began in Leander, Texas, where he was a standout high school football player. Kelley’s life took a dramatic turn when he was arrested the summer before his senior year, accused of sexually molesting a young boy.

Initial Investigation

The initial investigation was conducted by the Cedar Park Police Department. The accusation arose when the 4-year-old boy told his mother that he had been assaulted, and she reported it to the police. Kelley was identified as a suspect because he lived in the house where the daycare was operated.

The case began when a 4-year-old boy attending the daycare made an accusation of sexual assault. The daycare was operated by a friend’s family with whom Kelley was living at the time. After the child’s accusation, Kelley, who was 18 years old and a high school football star, was arrested and charged.

Interview Techniques

The techniques used to interview the young child became a point of significant controversy. Critics, including Kelley’s defense team and later the Texas Rangers, argued that the interviews were improperly conducted. The methods were said to be suggestive and leading, which can be particularly problematic when interviewing children due to their suggestibility. Proper forensic interviewing techniques are crucial to avoid the implantation of false memories or the coercion of children into making false statements.

Physical Evidence

There was no physical evidence directly linking Kelley to the crime. No DNA, fingerprints, or any other type of forensic evidence was presented that conclusively connected Kelley to the alleged assault. The lack of physical evidence was a significant factor in the case, especially considering the severity of the charges and the eventual sentence.

Testimonial Evidence

The primary evidence against Kelley was the testimony of the 4-year-old child who was the alleged victim. In cases involving young children, testimonies can be particularly sensitive and complex due to the potential for suggestibility and the difficulty children may have in accurately recalling and articulating events.

During Kelley’s trial, the child’s testimony was considered compelling by the jury. However, the methods used to obtain the child’s testimony were later criticized. The defense argued that the techniques used during the forensic interviews were suggestive and could have led the child to make false or influenced statements. This type of evidence is often heavily scrutinized because the way questions are asked can significantly affect a child’s responses.

Challenges and Criticisms

Kelley’s defense argued that the investigation was mishandled. They pointed out that the police did not pursue other potential suspects, including another resident of the house, and failed to conduct a thorough investigation of alternative scenarios. The defense also highlighted that the daycare had multiple people coming in and out regularly, which could have led to potential contamination of evidence or other individuals having the opportunity to commit the crime.

One of the main points of contention was the relationship between the lead investigator of the Cedar Park Police and the McCarty family, who were central figures in the case. The McCartys operated the in-home daycare where the alleged assault took place, and their son, Jonathan McCarty, was later considered a possible suspect by Kelley’s defense team.

The lead investigator was reported to have had a close relationship with the McCarty family, which raised questions about the impartiality of the investigation. Critics argued that this relationship could have influenced the investigation’s direction, potentially leading to bias or a failure to pursue all reasonable leads, including the possibility that someone other than Kelley could have been responsible for the alleged crime.

Furthermore, it was suggested that the police did not follow standard procedures in their investigation, such as thoroughly examining all potential suspects and conducting unbiased interviews with the children involved. The Texas Rangers’ subsequent review of the case highlighted these and other investigative shortcomings, which contributed to the eventual overturning of Kelley’s conviction.

The potential conflict of interest, along with the investigative flaws, became a significant aspect of the case’s re-examination and played a role in the public outcry that followed. The case underscored the importance of objectivity and thoroughness in criminal investigations, especially those with such severe consequences.

Recanted Testimony and Flawed Investigation

The case took a significant turn when one of the children who initially gave testimony against Kelley recanted his statement. Additionally, an investigation by the Texas Rangers found that the original investigation by the Cedar Park Police was deeply flawed. The Rangers’ report criticized the police for not exploring other possible suspects and for their handling of the interviews with the children.

Who Is Jonathan McCarthy?

In the Greg Kelley case, the question of whether there was another suspect emerged as a critical point during the efforts to overturn Kelley’s conviction. The name that came up as an alternative suspect was Jonathan McCarty.

Jonathan McCarty lived in the same house where the alleged assaults took place, which also operated as an in-home daycare. He was similar in age and appearance to Greg Kelley, which raised questions about the identification process that led to Kelley’s conviction. McCarty’s mother ran the daycare, and during the reinvestigation of the case, it was revealed that McCarty had prior accusations of sexual misconduct, which were not thoroughly investigated by the Cedar Park Police during the initial investigation of Kelley’s case.

The defense argued that this oversight was a significant failure of the police investigation, as it did not consider all possible suspects. The presence of another potential suspect who had access to the victims and had previous allegations against him cast doubt on the certainty of Kelley’s guilt.

The re-examination of the case by the Texas Rangers and Kelley’s legal team brought these details to light, contributing to the decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn Kelley’s conviction and declare him innocent.

It’s important to note that the mention of another suspect in such cases is a sensitive matter. While McCarty was named as an alternative suspect, he has not been convicted of the crime for which Kelley was originally charged. The focus on McCarty was part of the defense’s strategy to demonstrate flaws in the initial investigation and to argue that Kelley’s conviction was a miscarriage of justice due to a lack of due diligence by the original investigators.


After years of legal battles, Kelley’s conviction was overturned in 2017, and he was released on bond. In 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found actual innocence, fully exonerating Kelley. The court’s decision was influenced by the new evidence that emerged, including the flawed police investigation, the recanted testimony, and the work of Kelley’s defense team, which presented alternative suspects and highlighted the lack of physical evidence against Kelley.

However, the integrity of Kelley’s conviction was called into question as advocates began to scrutinize the evidence and the manner in which the investigation was conducted. Over time, several factors emerged that cast doubt on the guilty verdict. Advocates for Kelley pointed to recanted testimony and allegations of shoddy police work, suggesting that the investigation into the alleged crime was flawed. These revelations prompted a re-examination of the case, and on November 6, 2019, Kelley’s conviction was overturned.


Kelley’s exoneration brought to light significant concerns about the conduct of child interviews in abuse cases, the rush to judgment in criminal investigations, and the importance of considering all possible suspects and scenarios. The case has been used as an example of the potential for wrongful convictions in the criminal justice system, especially in cases relying heavily on the testimony of very young children without corroborative evidence.

In summary, the investigation and evidence in Greg Kelley’s case were marred by procedural errors and a lack of thoroughness, which ultimately led to a wrongful conviction. It underscores the critical need for meticulous and unbiased investigative practices, particularly in cases involving vulnerable populations such as children.

Life After Exoneration

After his exoneration, Greg Kelley has taken several steps to rebuild his life and move forward from the wrongful conviction that once defined his existence.

Kelley has been focusing on his personal development and education. He was accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been pursuing a major in Kinesiology. His choice of study indicates a continued interest in sports and perhaps a desire to remain connected to athletics, albeit in a different capacity than he might have once imagined as a young football star.

Kelley married his childhood sweetheart, Gaebri Anderson, which signifies a new chapter in his personal life. The support of his partner through the tumultuous times and their subsequent marriage is a testament to their strong relationship and shared experiences.

He is a devout Christian and has used his social media platforms to share his faith and how it has helped him through his challenges. His faith likely provided him with a source of strength and resilience during his time in prison and continues to be a central part of his life.

Kelley has become an advocate for criminal justice reform, using his case as an example of the flaws in the system and the need for change. His wrongful conviction and the fight to clear his name have given him a unique perspective on the injustices that can occur within the legal system.

Kelley has also started his own small business, which is a significant step towards establishing his independence and creating a new professional identity. This entrepreneurial venture is a clear indication of his determination to move forward and build a successful life post-exoneration.

In a touching turn of events, after his mother sold her home to pay for his legal bills, Kelley was able to purchase a home for her once he was exonerated. This act highlights his gratitude and the close-knit nature of his family, who stood by him throughout his ordeal.

Additionally, Kelley’s passion for football has not waned. He has been involved with Eastern Michigan University’s football program, which suggests that he continues to find joy and fulfillment in the sport that once played such a significant role in his life.

Greg Kelley’s steps after exoneration reflect a desire to not only return to some semblance of normalcy but also to give back and make the most of the life that was almost unjustly taken from him. His actions show a commitment to personal growth, community service, and advocacy, all while navigating the complexities of re-entering society after a wrongful conviction.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not forget that when you or anyone you know is facing a criminal charge, you have us, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, by your side to help you build the best defense case for you. We will work and be in your best interest for you and we will obtain the best possible outcome that can benefit you. We can explain everything you need to know about your trial and how to defend your case best. We can help you step by step through the criminal process. 

Therefore, do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know that is facing criminal charges unsure about the court system. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain the result of the charge to you and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable criminal law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense case for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that can benefit you.  

Also, here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, you are given a free consultation at your convenience. You may choose to have your appointment via Zoom, google meet, email, or an in-person appointment; and we will provide you with as much advice and information as possible so you can have the best possible result in your case. 

Call us now at (281) 810-9760.

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