Austin professionals support Kellers' release


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN FISHER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on November 28, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 29 at 7:20 PM

AUSTIN -- Attorney J. Terry Weeks filed a 35-page document with the Travis County Court. It is supported by more than two dozen legal and medical professionals who all agree with his conclusion. 

"It couldn't have happened," Weeks said. 

As news that Weeks was writing the brief spread, his peers quickly signed on.

"Lawyers, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers," he said. "We knew it for 20 years."

In 1991, an Oak Hill couple was accused of sexually assaulting three children in their home daycare.

"Children were flown to Mexico and back home in one day and raped," said Weeks.

The allegations suddenly escalated to include satanic rituals. 

"It was a time of hysteria, and all over the nation it was happening," Weeks said. "The wave started in the late '80s."

"This was not a figurative witch hunt. This was a real witch hunt. This was a Satan hunt. The investigation was actually motivated and driven by all these preposterous beliefs," added the Kellers' attorney Keith Hampton. 

In 1992, a jury convicted the Kellers of assaulting one child. Both were sentenced to 48 years in prison, but they've always maintained their innocence.

"I've been locked up, in prison, 18 years for a crime I didn't commit," Frances Keller said in a 2009 interview with Austin Chronicle Reporter Jana Birchum. "Get out? I hope and pray. I just want the truth to come out. I want to go home."

The only piece of physical evidence in the trial came Dr. Michael Mouw, who later recanted his statement. That set off a series of events that led to the release of Frances Keller, 21 years after her conviction. Daniel Keller is set to be released next week. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg agreed to release both on bond, pending a review of their case by the Criminal Court of Appeals.

In the brief, Weeks writes:

The undersigned all believe that Fran Keller is serving a sentence for a crime that actually never occurred and we all have been haunted since 1992 by a strong feeling that an injustice has been done to two innocent people. We all firmly believe she is innocent of the crime of which she was convicted.

"It was wrong and one by one, everybody said 'yes,' haunted for 20 years," Weeks said. 

Weeks said they were haunted by the truth, and he becomes emotional when thinking about it. He thinks about the time lost, lives forever changed, but now he has hope that some of what is lost can be restored.

Weeks says during this hysteria wave, hundreds of people across the country were convicted. All of them have been released except for the Kellers and a man in Florida.

Dr. Michal Mouw, whose testimony helped seal the conviction, released the following statement regarding the case:

“I gave testimony in the Keller case in good faith, based on an unusual-appearing hymen that I had never before seen. At the time, I believed the finding indicated trauma. Since then, I have learned from forensic experts that this finding was a normal variant. With time and experience I became convinced that my testimony was erroneous, so I felt obligated to rescind it.”

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