Cochran case closed by guilty plea

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Clayton Kelly has pleaded guilty to breaking into the nursing home of the wife of Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-MS) and taking unauthorized photos of her in bed.

Cochran's wife, Rose, had Alzheimer's disease and was unaware the photos were being taken. She died in December. The case stirred up debate in the long-term care community related to patient privacy, consent, and the use of cameras by visitors.

Kelly, a 29-year-old computer technician, faces up to five years in prison for his part in the 2014 scandal. His plea came as a surprise, the local Clarion-Ledger reported. Kelly was seen making a deal with prosecutors right before the jury selection; his attorney, Kevin Camp, told reporters he believed it because his client realized his defense was not strong enough to counter facility security guard testimony.

On April 20, 2014, Kelly took a camera and walked into St. Catherine's Village in Madison, where Rose Cochran had received dementia care for 14 years. He photographed her in bed and posted the shots in a video on the Internet criticizing the senator.

Kelly supported Cochran's opponent, and was allegedly trying to portray the senator as unfaithful to his ailing wife. Three weeks ago, Cochran married staff member Kay Webber.

Three others were arrested with Kelly in the case: Mississippi Tea Party co-founder Mark Mayfield, former Hattiesburg radio talk show host John Mary, and elementary school teacher Richard Sager. Mayfield committed suicide two months after the incident, and three days after Cochrane won a run-off election. Mary and Sager cooperated in Kelly's prosecution and did not receive jail time.