Thomas Clayton denied opportunity to appeal life sentence

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Appellate Court Fourth Department has denied Thomas Clayton’s latest appeal for his life sentence for the death of his wife, Kelley Stage Clayton.

Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore tells 18 News that there were no grounds for the appellate court to take up Clayton’s latest appeal.

The Appellate Court Fourth Department upheld Clayton’s first-degree murder charge in August.

Clayton is currently serving life in prison without parole at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.

The former Elmira Jackals hockey player was found guilty in February 2017. Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore, acting as special prosecutor, said Clayton hired a former employee, Michael Beard, to kill his wife for $10,000. Kelley was beaten to death in their home in the Town of Caton, in September 2015. 

Clayton’s attorney, Brian Shiffrin, argued in a Rochester-based appellate court on April 10, that the prosecution’s case lacked solid evidence, claiming that cell tower technology and cellphone anaylsis, which largely provided the basis for the conviction, is non-scientific. Wetmore countered this argument by stating that “this is not new science,” and is proven to be legitimate. 

This case garnered national attention and was featured in an episode of NBC’s Dateline.

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