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Austin prosecutor declines to retry couple locked up for over 20 years

Austin prosecutor declines to retry couple locked up for over 20 years


Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has acknowledged that the satanic child sex abuse crimes that have kept Dan and Fran Keller in prison for over a generation probably never happened.

Earlier this week Moore moved to dismiss the charges against both and said they were innocent in a press release. And while Moore finally stood up and made the right decision in dismissing the charges, her predecessors in that office persecuted and unfairly locked up this couple for decades.

The Kellers, who ran a daycare facility out of their home, spent 21 years in prison after they were convicted of sexually abusing three children. They had been sentenced to 48 years.

But the doctor who examined the children, and said there was evidence the abuse occurred, later recanted. That led the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to grant relief in the case about four years ago. The Kellers have been out on bail since their appeal was granted, but still faced the possibility of being tried again.

The couple divorced while they were in prison.

Moore, who was elected district attorney in 2016, reexamined the case and determined that the couple was innocent.

Former district attorney Ronnie Earle chose to prosecute the Kellers, and after their conviction was thrown out his successor, Rosemary Lehmberg, declined to make a decision on whether or not to retry them before ceding the office to Moore.

Because they were found to be actually innocent, the Kellers could now get compensation from the state for the 21 years they spent in prison—about $80,000 for each year they were locked up.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, “The accusations against the Kellers made national news after three children accused them of participating in satanic rituals that included videotaped orgies, dismembered babies and tortured pets. No evidence of such activities was ever discovered.”

Allegations of satanic ritual abuse against children were fairly common in the 1980s and 1990s, with many of the people accused later being exonerated.