Thomas Clayton's first-degree murder conviction upheld
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WENY) – A New York State Appellate Court has upheld the first-degree murder conviction for Thomas Clayton, the Steuben County man sentenced to life in prison after he conspired with a former employee to kill his wife, Kelley.
Kelley was found beaten to death in her home on Ginnan Road in the Town of Caton on September 29, 2015.
Michael Beard, who worked under Clayton at Paul Davis and ServPro, initially told authorities he was promised $10,000 by Clayton if he killed Kelley; however, Beard later recanted this statement and testified that Clayton did hire him, but only to burn down the home for insurance money, not to kill Kelley.
The jury rejected Beard's revised statement and found him guilty of first-degree murder on November 16.
Meanwhile, Clayton was convicted of first- and second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The lesser-included second-degree murder charge was dropped; however, since Clayton's first-degree murder conviction was upheld, he will continue to serve that life sentence at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York without the possibility of parole.
As WENY News reported, Clayton initially filed the appeal in October 2018, which was heard at a Rochester appellate court on April 10, 2019. The appeal argued that the evidence leading to Clayton's conviction was insufficient.
In the decision, court officials said, “We reject (the) defendant's contention that the evidence is legally insufficient...Although the case against (the) defendant is circumstantial, the standard of review for determining whether a conviction is supported by legally sufficient evidence 'is the same for circumstantial and non-circumstantial cases-whether after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution...'”
Read the full decision below: