Sutherland Springs killer accused of waterboarding then-wife
The former wife of the man who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs told authorities four years earlier that her husband had water-boarded her in addition to choking and kicking her.
She described the assaults to a deputy of the Comal County Sheriff’s Office who was investigating another woman’s allegations of a sexual assault by Devin Kelley, who in November slaughtered men, women and children at his relatives’ church.
The Sheriff’s Office never filed charges against Kelley even though the victim had already spoken to a deputy and given a two-page written statement describing the alleged sexual assault in June 2013, according to records released Friday. The woman described a brutal assault during which she was choked, slapped and forced into oral sex.
According to the documents, the case became inactive because the victim, who is not identified, did not respond to a detective’s follow-up calls and messages, according to the records.
Had Devin Kelley been found guilty of sexual assault, he may have not have been able to legally obtain four guns between 2014 and 2017, including the Ruger AR-556 rifle he bought from an Academy Sports & Outdoors in San Antonio that he used in the church massacre.
After the deadly shooting Nov. 5, authorities admitted that sheriff’s deputies had investigated the alleged sexual assault on June 15, 2013, at Kelley’s family home, but they said they didn’t know why the case was dropped.
The Comal County Sheriff’s Office launched an inquiry to determine why the case wasn’t pursued and if it was mishandled.
This was not the first time Kelley had been investigated by authorities.
In 2012, he was court-martialed and found guilty of assaulting his then-wife, Tessa Brennaman, and fracturing his stepson’s skull at an Air Force base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he was a logistics readiness specialist.
Kelley was sentenced to 12 months confinement and given a bad-conduct discharge, a punitive measure similar to a dishonorable discharge, but not as severe.
The conviction in military court in 2012 should have precluded Kelley from buying the four guns, but the Air Force never reported it to the FBI. The Air Force found the error was not an isolated incident and that similar reporting lapses by the Air Force occurred at other locations.
A Pentagon report reviewed 2,502 fingerprint cards for military service members convicted in courts-martial that should have been sent to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division for inclusion in a national background check database. Of those, 601, or 24 percent, were not submitted.
Emilie Eaton is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of her stories here. | email@example.com | @emilieeaton