Oct. 9, 2016

Five days after her bond was reduced from $1.8 million to $400,000, Betsy Kelly is released from jail.

140120TwentyFiveIn January 1994 Kelly would accept a plea of “no contest” and a sentence of seven years in prison. Since she had already served two years and two weeks in jail, she became eligible for parole almost immediately. But Assistant Attorney General Bill Hart, angry over her unwavering insistence that she was innocent, reneged on a plea agreement not to contest her release, and the Parole Commission kept her imprisoned another 10 months.

The prosecution used excessive bail as a sledgehammer on the lives and freedom of Betsy Kelly and the other Little Rascals defendants:

  • Bob Kelly, $1.5 million (later reduced to $200,000 – after his conviction was overturned – then $50,000 )
  • Scott Privott, $1 million (reduced to $50,000)
  • Shelley Stone, $375,000
  • Dawn Wilson, $880,000 (reduced to $200,000)
  • Robin Byrum, $500,000 (reduced to $200,000)
  • Darlene Harris, $350,000

What outrageous conditions! Did Hart, H. P. Williams Jr. and Nancy Lamb fear that the defendants would flee to Argentina? That they would prowl the town’s playgrounds in search of new victims? No, these obviously out-of-reach amounts surely had no purpose but to coerce confessions. How shocked and disappointed prosecutors must have been that not one of the defendants, though crushed financially, succumbed.