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Keith Wells

Other Texas Child Sex Abuse Exonerations
In December 1998, Keith Wells pled guilty in Johnson County Criminal District Court to sexual assault of a child for having sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 17 years old in Cleburne, Texas. Wells maintained the act was consensual.

Wells was sentenced to probation and deferred adjudication for five years. In 2004, just before the period of probation was to end, the Johnson County District Attorney’s office accused him of violating the terms of the probation by failing a drug test.

On October 6, 2004, Wells was sentenced to four years in prison. He was released in September 2007 and required to register as a sex offender.

In 2018, Wells filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate his conviction. The petition noted that prior to 1994, the statute of sexually molesting a child allowed a defendant to assert an affirmative defense if the defendant was within two years of the age of the victim. However, the Texas legislature amended the statute in 1994 to expand the age range to three years.

The petition said that Wells’s guilty plea was involuntary because his defense attorney failed to recognize that Wells was 2 years and 11 months older than the victim.

The Johnson County District Attorney’s office supported the petition. In April 2018, the trial court recommended that the conviction be vacated.

On May 16, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Wells’s conviction. On June 15, 2018, the prosecution dismissed the case.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 8/7/2018
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Sentence:4 years
Age at the date of reported crime:17
Contributing Factors:Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No