BELTON — An admitted drug dealer, robber and thief told a court Friday that though he is not a good person, he is not a murderer and deserves a new trial.
Chance Deallen Keller, 27, is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for a capital murder conviction in the shooting death of Stephen Wright, 20, who was shot to death in Belton in February 2012.
Keller took the stand Friday in a heated hearing, in which he was often combative with both his court-appointed defense attorneys and the prosecutor in his case. He pleaded with presiding Judge Martha Trudo to grant his request, stating he would be willing to take a lie detector test to prove he did not kill Wright.
“I’m not an angel,” Keller said. “I do do bad things, but I’m not a murderer.”
Trudo is expected to rule Monday or Tuesday.
The court ordered the hearing after an inmate at Bell County Jail contacted prosecutor Mike Waldman, writing him a letter stating he overheard another man bragging about killing Wright and that the wrong man had been convicted.
Leslie Whiteley wrote to Waldman that 22-year-old Brandon Hargett laughed when a news report about Keller’s conviction appeared on a jail television. Hargett said he killed Wright during a drug deal gone bad.
Whiteley is currently being held in Bell County Jail on a bench warrant. When he wrote the letter, he was in the jail on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
Hargett also is in the county jail on orders to revoke his probation on two convictions of burglary of a habitation.
Hargett asserted his Fifth Amendment rights when called to testify Friday.
Keller appeared agitated while on the stand Friday during a hearing in which he often interrupted attorneys’ questions before they could be asked.
He rocked in his chair and was flanked by extra security in the 146th District Court in Belton.
At one point, after a somewhat tense exchange with his lead defense attorney Buck Harris, Keller’s father stood up and began yelling that Keller had been receiving inadequate representation since he was initially charged.
Bell County deputies removed the man from the courtroom, and the hearing proceeded without any more interruptions.
Keller told the court he was at Wright’s house on the day of the shooting. He had traveled from Waco to sell Wright a large amount of prescription pain killers. While inside Wright’s home in the 400 block of West Seventh Avenue, he said Hargett came in and a fight ensued. Keller brought the gun used in the shooting, but he said it fell out of his pocket. Keller testified Hargett then shot Wright.
Contact Philip Jankowski at email@example.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.