Guest Commentary: Posing the Question of Innocence

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Justin Sullivan / Getty

By D. Razor Babb

Two years ago when Joan Parkin became involved with the Mule Creek Post she remarked, “If you know of anyone who is factually innocent, I’d like to know.” Out of the roomful of reporters and editors, no names were offered up. But the question remained in the ether, and two years later, a name has arisen: Jerry Kelley. Kelley is an unassuming, quiet-spoken man who spends his time corresponding with his wife and family, drawing landscapes and wildlife, and reading the Bible. He’s been my neighbor for years; I’ve never heard him utter a foul word. He keeps to himself and offers a helping hand when needed.

From my experiences, this calm-under-trying-circumstances demeanor denotes either a psychopathic serial killer or someone who doesn’t belong in prison. He seems more the latter. That said, one recent Saturday morning Kelley was subjected to a very intense, no-nonsense question-and-answer session – if I was going to submit a name to someone with the track recorded of Joan Parkin, I needed assurances. Kelley stood up to questioning, and I came away a true believer.

Accusations arising from revenge and profit-driven motivations; an adversarial antagonist with a long criminal history trying to make his own deal with the district attorney’s office; a six day trial (jury selection and deliberations included); an attorney that was introduced to the defendant by the very source driving the charges – it become evident that Kelley has a claim.

The famous quote, “It is better that 10 guilty persons go free than one innocent suffer” and its derivatives, whether accurately attributed to Voltaire, Sir William Blackstone, or Oliver Wendell Holmes, applies here. As for Kelley, when asked how he’s faring, he is philosophical.

“I found my soul during this time, and I discovered the true meaning of life… appreciate and cherish those you love and who love you, and treat people with kindness, no matter where you are or what fate befalls you. You do the best you can, you play the hand you’re dealt.”

Is Jerry Kelley innocent? If he is, there are social justice advocates and organizations that can help. Maybe fate, in this case, will be tested, and perhaps Jerry will be dealt aces on the next hand.

Razor Babb is the Editor in Chief of the Mule Creek Post.  Originally published in the Mule Creek Post.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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