The same month, Sells sent Elswick another letter that called Smith a "lying ass piece of [expletive]." He also indicated in the letter, according to ODC, that Smith reneged on some sort of deal that the men had.
"And I do think I could of help [sic] more had he keep [sic] his word," Sells said, according to the letter.
Elswick returned to death row months later, this time taking a tape-recorded deposition in which Sells again confessed to the McClain-Castoneda murders. According to the interview transcript, Elswick asked Sells if he had met Smith. Sells said no, apparently contradicting his earlier statements to Elswick.
By the spring of 2005, Elswick asked to be removed from the case because of "perceived issues" with Smith. Castelle, her boss, took over the case.
Afterward, Brumfield apparently sent several email "shout outs" to a Texas radio station, asking them to play songs for "Tommy Lynn."
"Please play Motley Crue's 'Shout at the Devil' and give a shout out to Tommy Lynn from his two mountain mamas in West Virginia," read one of the emails excerpted in the ODC investigation. "Please also let him know we are always thinking about him."
In February 2006, Sells signed a letter that recanted his admission and alleged that he received letters from Indiana that gave him details of the McClain-Castoneda murders. He also said he was forwarded a letter from his own lawyer, which also contained details of the crime. The author of that letter was "Windy Campbell," Sells alleged.
"It was kind of a chess game talking with her," Sells said in his recantation. "I thought everyone had been messing with me so I messed with them back."
Two years later, Castelle found an unmarked file in Brumfield's office that contained 61 letters between Elswick and Sells. Castelle read each letter to verify that she had not provided any information about the murders to Sells, and then later fired Brumfield for the concealed file and false testimony at a previous appeal hearing.
At some point after Elswick and Sells first met in Texas, Sells asked his lawyer if he could send poems to her. Elswick told Sells in a letter dated June 28, 2004, that "I want you to know that I am not being nice to you for the depositions."
In letters from Sells, he makes reference to Elswick's breasts and tells her that he thinks she is "sexy," according to the ODC findings.
Elswick told Sells in one letter that she only dated older men in high school and that some people would say that she is looking for an "eternal father figure," the ODC complaint states.
The letters end in March 2005, with the last one from Sells asking Elswick if he is in the "dog house," according to the findings.
The ODC found that Elswick "jeopardized her client's case and the witness's credibility, as well as her own credibility.
"This ongoing pattern of behavior and respondent's refusal to recognize the clear conflict of interest that she created calls into question respondent's overall fitness to practice law," the report states.
Smith has claimed that he never met Sells.
During Elswick's initial hearing before the disciplinary board in 2011, her attorney said Elswick did not intentionally hide evidence that suggested Smith and Sells had a connection.
If Elswick had intended to conceal the link, she could have simply destroyed the letters, Kelley pointed out. But she didn't, indicating that she was unaware that the information existed, he said.
Kelley also said that Elswick was a young lawyer at the time, and continued to keep in touch with Sells because Texas authorities told her it would be a good idea.
"What we had here was perhaps a mistake -- certainly not an intentional mistake -- made by then a very young lawyer," Kelley said in 2011.
The disciplinary board gave Elswick credit for not destroying the letters, but repeatedly scoffed at assertions that she was ignorant of the relationship between Smith and Sells.
"Respondent's testimony very much bothered this panel when the respondent denied, on direct questioning, that she was aware of the fact that Mr. Sells and Mr. Smith knew each other even though it was clearly set forth in her own handwriting and initial notes," according to the ODC findings.
Reach Zac Taylor at zachary.tay...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.