Blogger pleads in Cochran photo scandal case - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Blogger pleads in Cochran photo scandal case

MADISON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The political blogger at the center of the Cochran photo scandal pleaded guilty to conspiracy Monday. Clayton Kelly faced three charges: house burglary, attempted house burglary and conspiracy.

Because he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and the other two charges were dropped. The case never made it to a jury.

Just more than a year after he took photos of Rose Cochran in St. Catherine's village, Clayton Kelly's criminal case is coming to a close.

Kelly said he "absolutely" believes he was acting as a journalist that day.

Pre-trial motions took hours to sort through. Many of those in an effort to get the case dismissed. Kelly's attorney argued he didn't break the law because he had a pass to get in at St. Catherine's. He also said Kelly was protected by the First Amendment.

"My constitutional right should be respected," noted Kelly outside the courthouse. "But I don't think they were necessarily trying to attack my constitutional right, unless the case gets to that point. But I don't have any more comments. I better not say too much."

After all the pre-trial motions were denied, a plea deal was offered.

"I believe the combination of all those things turned the tide," explained District Attorney Michael Guest. "Mr. Kelly decided it was now in his best interest to go ahead and enter a plea of guilty. I do not believe that Mr. Kelly would've entered this plea of guilty if he did not feel that we could have met our case, met our burden."

Several security guards from St. Catherine's were called to the stand. They said there were added restrictions for some high-profile residents, including Rose Cochran. They noted that they would've taken additional steps if Kelly had said that is who he planned to visit that Easter Sunday.

Kelly's wife admitted a plea deal seemed to be the best option. Clayton Kelly faces up to five years in prison. His sentencing will be held in Madison County Circuit Court next Monday.

Cochran's family was notified before the plea deal was offered.

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