Saturday, January 24, 2009

Court Denies Death Row Appeal Of Von Maxcy Murderer


Court Denies Death Row Appeal Of Von Maxcy Murderer

The man convicted of the 1966 killing of Highlands County citrus and
cattle baron Charles Von Maxcy had his latest appeal denied Thursday by
the Florida Supreme Court.

William Kelley, 66, of Brockton, Mass., appealed a trial court order
denying his "successive postconviction motion" and petitioned the state's
high court for a writ of habeas corpus, which is filed by prisoners
seeking release, according to

Kelley alleges that the state failed to disclose evidence forms that
indicate, in 1966 and 1967, "certain evidence was transported from the
Florida Sheriff's Bureau Crime Laboratory in Tallahassee back to the
submitting agency after laboratory examination," according to the Supreme
Court's ruling.

The prisoner maintained that the state's failure to disclose those forms
necessitates a new trial because they would have led to evidence that
would have been, "both exculpatory and impeaching," the ruling stated.

Kelley was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 for Von Maxcy's
murder, 18 years after the victim, 41, was stabbed and shot to death at
his Sebring home.

Von Maxcy's wife, Irene, had arranged through her lover, John Sweet, to
have Kelley kill her husband, according to an Oct. 26, 2007, Highlands
Today report. Sweet testified the wife was afraid of being left out of Von
Maxcy's $1.7 million estate.

Sweet was originally convicted in the death of Von Maxcy. Then, in 1976,
the court ordered that all physical evidence be destroyed.

"The issue of destroyed evidence has remained a constant over the course
of Kelley's trial, direct appeal and postconviction proceedings," the
latest court ruling stated.

Irene Von Maxcy, following Sweet's conviction, admitted to lying on the
stand about his involvement and Sweet was freed. She was convicted of
perjury and served 4 years in prison.

Sweet received immunity in the Von Maxcy murder and in Massachusetts for
charges of loan-sharking and counterfeiting in exchange for testimony
against Kelley, Highlands Today report stated.

In Kelley's petition, he alleged there was never an evidentiary finding
that all evidence was destroyed prior to his trial, appellate counsel was
ineffective in saying the evidence was destroyed, and the state
intentionally destroyed evidence that "prejudiced" his defense, the
rulings stated.

The court had previously stated that evidence was destroyed in 1976 prior
to the trial and Kelley was not prejudiced by its destruction.

"Additionally, Kelley's claim of ineffective assistance of appellate
counsel is simply a variation of the claim of ineffective assistance of
trial counsel raised in Kelley's first postconviction motion," the ruling

Calls to defense attorneys Thursday seeking comment were not immediately

(source: Highlands Today)

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