Clayton Kelly sentenced to 2.5 years for Cochran hit piece
CANTON — “We need you to have no more contact with the campaign,” John Mary, a.k.a. John Bert messaged Clayton Kelly one day last February. “What we are going to do will be EXPLOSIVE. The other side will be hunting for ANY connection to you.”
Kelly on Monday was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy to photograph the late wife of Sen. Thad Cochran as she lay in her nursing home bed suffering dementia. John Mary and Richard Sager had previously pleaded guilty and got no jail time in exchange for their cooperation. Another defendant, Richland attorney Mark Mayfield, committed suicide in June 2014, about a month after his arrest.
Kelly, an aspiring political blogger, was egged on by others to photograph Rose Cochran at St. Catherine’s Village nursing home. He used the image in a political hit piece video against Cochran, who was in the biggest political battle of his long career in his re-election battle against tea party challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Records released Monday show online correspondence between Kelly, other defendants and others about the scheme to create a video showing Cochran was having an affair with a longtime staffer while his wife languished in a nursing home.
From testimony from an investigator and records introduced Monday, it appears Mary, a former radio talk show host and tea party leader from Hattiesburg, was the ring leader in the plan to photograph Rose Cochran and make the hit piece video.
Kelly had faced charges of burglary, attempted burglary and conspiracy, carrying a maximum 55 years in prison. In a last minute plea deal as his trial was about to start last week, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and faced a maximum of five years.