Clemency For Kevin Keith
Mr. Keith has an alibi for the time of the crime supported by four witnesses.
The Ohio Innocence Project, the National Innocence Network, and a group of leading eyewitness and memory experts all support relief for Mr. Keith.
I urgently appeal to the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Ted Strickland to grant clemency to Kevin Keith to prevent the State of Ohio from doing the intolerable: putting a man to death for a crime he did not commit.
The primary evidence against Mr. Keith was the erroneous eyewitness identification of one of the surviving victims of the crime, who identified Mr. Keith in spite of initially telling at least four witnesses that he was unable to identify the perpetrator. This identification of Mr. Keith relied on the very procedures recognized to be unreliable and inaccurate by Governor Strickland and the Ohio Legislature when the State passed into law in April new requirements for eyewitness identification procedures.
New evidence recently uncovered by counsel for Mr. Keith further discredits the identification. Thirteen years after he was convicted, Mr. Keith discovered that one of the State’s supposed “witnesses” – who was critical to corroborating the legitimacy of the eyewitness identification – does not actually exist.
Additional new evidence also implicates an alternative suspect who told a police informant that he was paid to carry out the crime for which Mr. Keith stands to be executed.
No court has ever had the entirety of new evidence before it.
More information on the case can be found at: Kevin Keith.org
Mr. Keith has steadfastly maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest and throughout his 16 years on death row. The State of Ohio now risks putting to death an innocent man with no jury ever hearing the entirety of evidence of innocence.
I appeal to the Ohio Parole Board and Governor Strickland to grant clemency to Kevin Keith.
Victims: Marichell Chatman, 24; her daughter Marchae, 4; and Chatman's aunt, Linda Chatman, 39.
The Crime: Bucyrus police and Crawford County prosecutors say Keith opened fire on a group in retaliation for a drug arrest he blamed on an informant related to the shooting victims.
Three Bucyrus residents were killed in the shooting: Marichell Chatman, 24; her daughter Marchae, 4; and Chatman's aunt, Linda Chatman, 39. Marichell Chatman's boyfriend, Rick Warren, and cousins Quanita Reeves, 7, and Quentin Reeves, 4, were wounded.
The Ohio Supreme Court denied Keith's last appeal March 11, 2009.
The Ohio Innocence Project says Kevin Keith did not kill three people, including a 7-year-old girl, and wound three others in a 1994 shooting in Bucyrus.
"This case gave me grave concerns," project director Mark Godsey said. "I felt we should weigh in."
The group, which has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to consider Keith's claim of innocence, generally steers clear of death penalty cases because inmates already have attorneys making their case. In this one, Keith's public defenders say there is another suspect and that a police detective lied about a witness' statement.
Police and prosecutors allege Keith opened fire on the group in retaliation for a drug arrest that he blamed on a snitch related to the victims.
Keith, 45, has exhausted his regular state and federal appeals, losing his innocence argument in lower courts. He has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to consider his claim he didn't do it.
"This appeal is an attempt to repackage previously rejected claims," said Clifford Murphy, an assistant Crawford County prosecutor. "There is overwhelming guilt in this case."
Innocence claims by Ohio death row inmates are relatively rare. Ohio public defenders have filed only a handful of similar claims in the past five years. The state has 172 men and one woman on death row.
The shooting happened Feb. 13, 1994, at an apartment in Bucyrus, about 65 miles north of Columbus.
Prosecutors say Keith entered the apartment and sprayed it with gunfire, killing Marichell Chatman, 24; her 4-year-old daughter, Marchae; and the child's aunt, Linda Chatman, 39. Marichell Chatman was the brother of an undercover police informant whose efforts led to a four-count indictment against Keith for selling drugs, according to prosecutors.
Three others were shot that night but survived: Richard Warren, who would testify against Keith at trial; Quanita Reeves, 7; and her brother Quinton Reeves, 4.
Keith's public defenders say they uncovered evidence that bolsters a theory first presented at Keith's trial: that there was another suspect.
That person was a suspect in a series of pharmacy robberies around the time of the killings. He testified at trial that he told surviving family members that the shootings might have been in retaliation over the informant.
Keith's attorneys found additional information in the files of an Ohio Pharmacy Board investigator who had been looking into the pharmacy robberies. In those files, the other suspect said before the shootings that he had been paid $15,000 to "cripple" the informant.
Prosecutors say the claims aren't any different than what came up at trial.
Keith's attorneys also say a detective perjured himself in describing how a survivor identified Keith.
Capt. John Stanley of the Bucyrus Police Department read a transcript at trial of a nurse's call to police saying that Richard Warren, who survived the shooting, had woken up and identified the shooter as someone named "Kevin."
Keith's attorneys say the nurse Stanley identified, Amy Gimmets, never worked at the hospital. They say Warren's real nurse, named Amy Whisman, never told Stanley the name of the alleged shooter.
"Stanley created the fictitious Nurse Gimmets, and he lied about the conversation he had with Warren's real nurse," Rachel Troutman, Keith's public defender, said in a court filing.
Prosecutors dismiss the discrepancy as irrelevant, saying Warren testified at trial that Keith shot him.
Stanley, now retired, declined to comment.
The court denied 45-year-old Kevin Keith's claim that he did not commit the crime. Keith was sentenced to death for the attack in an apartment in Bucyrus.
Keith's attorneys say there is new evidence that proves there was another suspect and a police detective lied about a witness statement. Keith's defense team believes Bruce Milton, who was at the scene of the crime, may have pulled the trigger. One of the victims, Juanita Keith, previously identified Milton as the shooter.
The defense team also contends the local police may have protected Milton because they claim to have evidence that the police used him as an informant in the past. Prosecutors say Keith committed the crime in retaliation for a drug arrest.
Keith has exhausted his regular state and federal appeals and prosecutors have asked the supreme court to set an execution date for Keith.
878 Coitsville Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown Oh 44505
Scheduled Execution: September 15, 2010
Clemency Report When Available
Kevin Keith has been on Ohio's death row since 1994. His innocence claims and newly discovered evidence are overwhelming, enough so that the Ohio Innocence Project has become involved. The Innocence Project usually works on cases when DNA evidence is available for testing. However, despite the fact that no forensic evidence is available for testing, the Innocence Project is involved with efforts to win a new trial for Kevin Keith. Keith has a motion for a new trial pending before the Ohio Supreme Court.
Coerce Identification Leads to Wrongful Conviction: Kevin Keith Case
(Includes links to exhibits and court transcripts.)
Kevin Keith eyewitness report
Ohio Innocence Project says man isn't killer of 3
An Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
Petition for Kevin Keith
Kevin Keith is a man who represents the most compelling reason for Ohio to get serious about addressing its broken death penalty system: the looming execution of an innocent man.
Please take a moment to sign the petition and learn more about Kevin Keith's innocence claims, which you can access by going to the following address: