Convicted Killer’s Request For New Trial Denied

Chance Keller (Jail photo)
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BELTON (October 1, 2013)--A Waco man who was convicted in July of capital murder in the shooting death of a Belton man lost his bid for a new trial Tuesday.

Attorneys for Chance Deallen Keller, 25, had asked 264th District Court Judge Martha Jane Trudo to grant Keller a new trial in the Feb. 26, 2012 shooting death of Stephen Wright, 20, who was killed on the front porch of his Belton home.

A hearing was held on the request Friday after an inmate in the Bell County Jail wrote Bell County Assistant District Attorney Mike Waldman a letter that said another inmate in the jail had bragged about getting away with Wright’s murder because Keller had been found guilty of the death.

In the letter Leslie Whiteley told Waldman that another inmate, Brandon Hargett, laughed when he saw a news report about Keller’s conviction and said he had killed Wright after a drug deal went bad.

Whiteley was held on a drug charge and Hargett was held on a motion to revoke his probation for two convictions of burglary, jail records showed.

But Trudo ruled Tuesday that the evidence offered in support of the motion for a new trial “was not unknown to the defense and Mr. Keller prior to and during the trial.”

She said even if the evidence were true, it would not result in a different verdict because of the testimony of witnesses and “the defendant’s own statements and conduct” prior to and after the murder and after his arrest.

“Mr. Keller made numerous admissions against his penal interest to jailers, his family, his friends and others about the murder of Steven Wright,” Trudo said in the ruling.

“The involvement of Brandon Hargett would likely show the involvement of both men as parties to the capital murder,” she said.

Keller was jailed in Waco charged in an unrelated robbery that happened a few days after Wright was killed when he was served with the arrest warrant for the murder.