Kelley acquitted of raping young girl

Published 12:03 am Friday, March 22, 2013

An Andalusia man was found not guilty Wednesday following a two-day rape trial.

Erick Michael Kelley was arrested in September 2009 and charged with four counts of first-degree rape, four counts of second-degree rape, one count of first-degree sodomy and one count of second-degree sodomy and held on a $1.5 million bond.

Rod Sylvester, Kelley’s attorney, said his client maintained his innocence throughout the process after being accused of having sex with a girl, who said it started when she was 12.

“Basically, the complaining witness said (Kelley) had sex with her over a three-year period while he was her mother’s live-in boyfriend,” Sylvester said. “He denied it the whole time. I thought it pretty important that when he heard the allegations, he immediately went to the Sheriff’s Office (and said) he didn’t do it and he didn’t know why she would say something like that.”

Sylvester said the case was picked up by the Andalusia Police Department since the incidents allegedly occurred within their jurisdiction.

“And again, (Kelley) went straight down to the police department, gave his statement, and vehemently denied any involvement, saying he did nothing of the sort with the young lady,” he said.

Sylvester said Kelley, who spent three months in jail on the charges and had been out on bond since December 2009, took the stand in his own defense. Sylvester said once all the evidence was presented, the judge granted a motion to dismiss all but one rape and one sodomy charge.

“When (Kelley) got on the stand, he told the jury that he did nothing inappropriate, and we’re thankful the jury believed him over (the state’s) witnesses,” he said. “It took a lot of courage for the jury to listen to all those details and come back with a ‘not guilty’ verdict.”

Sylvester said the case was a good example of the need for jury trials.

“The state and the defense obviously couldn’t agree on what happened and needed a jury to sort it out,” he said. “Eric always maintained his innocence, and I didn’t see anything to prove otherwise.

“(Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter) did a fine job representing the state,” he said. “She worked with evidence that she had and did a good job. This is a good example of a trial where the system worked as it really should.”