Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Take action against the scheduled execution for Kevin Keith, an innocent man!

On the evening of February 13, 1994, Marichell Chatman, her daughter Marchae, and Marichell’s aunt Linda Chatman were shot to death at the Bucyrus Estates Apartments in Bucyrus, Ohio. Richard Warren, Marichell’s boyfriend, and Marichell’s young cousins, Quanita and Quinton Reeves, were also shot but survived. On February 15, 1994, Kevin Keith was arrested for these shootings. By May 31, 1994, Mr. Keith was sentenced to death for this crime. From crime to sentencing, only three-and-a-half months passed.
In spite of his alibi and no conclusive forensic evidence proving his involvement, Mr. Keith was convicted in 1994 and sentenced to death.  In 2007, after all his allotted appeals were exhausted, new counsel took on Mr. Keith’s case.  Upon investigating, counsel discovered new evidence for Mr. Keith that supported what Mr. Keith was saying from day one – he is actually innocent.
The new evidence proves that the primary evidence used to convict Keith was flawed.  The eyewitness identification testimony by a surviving victim was improperly influenced.  Thirteen years after he was convicted, Mr. Keith discovered that one of the State’s “witnesses” does not actually exist.  At Keith’s trial, the police had testified about a fictitious person and attributed a statement to her in order to bolster the shaky identification testimony of the surviving victim.
Mr. Keith’s new evidence further implicates an alternative suspect who told a police informant that he was paid to carry out the murders for which Keith is scheduled to die.  The police were aware of the statements by the alternative suspect, but no one turned them over to Keith’s counsel. 
Mr. Keith filed a motion for new trial immediately after discovering this new evidence, based on Brady v. Maryland and Napue v. Illinois.  The trial court paid so little attention to Keith’s arguments that it denied a motion for discovery that Keith never filed, used the wrong legal standard, failed to even address all the evidence, and got the witnesses’ names mixed up.  The state court of appeals affirmed the trial court and found that Keith was at fault for not having discovered and raised the evidence earlier. It further found that the new evidence was immaterial anyway, because twelve jurors had found enough evidence to find him guilty at trial.  The Ohio Supreme Court refused to consider the case because it did not contain a “substantial constitutional question.”
Keith also filed an application for a successor habeas petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  A divided panel rejected Keith’s application.  The majority found that Kevin Keith’s new evidence has introduced doubt into his conviction but found it was not enough doubt to meet the successor habeas standard.  One of the three judges, however, found that, “If the newly submitted evidence were proven, any reasonable factfinder would have serious, and reasonable, doubt as to whether it was Keith or [the alternative suspect] who committed the murders.”
Mr. Keith has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on March 2, 2010.  The National Innocence Network has filed a brief as amicus curiae on Keith’s behalf.  Thirteen experts in memory and eyewitness identification, spread across the nation, also filed a brief as amicus curiae on Keith’s behalf. 

A man faces execution despite a strong claim of innocence. With a conviction based on deeply flawed witness testimony, and emerging evidence pointing to an alternative suspect, doubts about his guilt continue to grow. Yet Kevin Keith is scheduled to be put to death by the state of Ohio on September 15. He has a clemency hearing on August 11, and he is still hoping for a court to grant him a new trial, but time is slipping away. It is important to ACT NOW!
Amnesty International opposes all executions, but even death penalty supporters should be concerned when serious claims of innocence have not been heard, and serious doubts about guilt have not been resolved.
Kevin Keith has been on death row since 1994, when he was convicted of the murders of Marichell Chatman, Marchae Chatman, and Linda Chatman. The night of the shooting, Marichell’s two young cousins, who were also shot, survived. One of them, Quanita Reeves, told the police that the gunman was one of her father’s friends and not Kevin Keith.
The prosecution’s case relied on the nurse of a third survivor, Richard Warren. Police testified that the nurse, Amy Gimmets, said that Warren had given her the name ‘Kevin’. Slight problem: in 2007, through a comprehensive search of hospital and Ohio records, it was discovered that Amy Gimmets never existed. Amy Whisman, Warren’s actual nurse, was not told who the gunman was, and Richard Warren initially told four people he did not know who the killer was. Kevin Keith’s attorneys have looked into Warren’s identification of Kevin Keith, and concluded that it was tainted by many factors, including a highly suggestive photo line-up where Mr. Keith’s face appeared larger than the others.
No court has ever had the entirety of new evidence before it. Some of the new evidence has been time-barred and therefore has never, and may never, be heard on its merits by any court. If Kevin Keith does not get the new trial he deserves, it is imperative that he be granted executive clemency. No one should ever be executed, but, surely no one should be executed under these circumstances.

An Innocent Man on Ohio's Death Row
Kevin Keith is an innocent man on Ohio’s death row, wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit based on faulty eyewitness identification – the leading cause of wrongful convictions nationwide. He has an alibi for the time of the crime supported by four witnesses. There is no forensic evidence that conclusively links him to the crime. Mr. Keith is scheduled to be executed on September 15, 2010.
In 2007, after all of his allotted appeals were exhausted, new counsel took on Mr. Keith’s case. Upon investigating, counsel discovered new evidence for Mr. Keith that supported what Mr. Keith was saying from day one – he is actually innocent.
Prominent supporters from around the country have filed supporting briefs and urged review in Mr. Keith's case, including the National Innocence Network, an affiliation of over 50 innocence projects and legal organizations around the country, the Ohio Innocence Project, an organization that typically only works on non-death penalty cases involving DNA evidence, and a group of leading eyewitness and memory experts.
New evidence discovered by counsel for Mr. Keith discredits the eyewitness identification used to convict Mr. Keith. New evidence also identifies an alternative suspect who made a before-the-fact admission that he planned to commit the crime for which Mr. Keith stands to be executed.
In May, attorneys for Mr. Keith filed a motion for a new trial in the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas based on additional new evidence that further undermines the eyewitness identification as well as contradicts evidence introduced by the State at trial to link Mr. Keith to the crime scene. Counsel for Mr. Keith discovered this evidence in an unrelated lawsuit against the Bucyrus, Ohio, Police Department. The Department is sued for the destruction of tape recordings of the station’s incoming phone calls without preserving the evidence contained in those calls, which are at the center of the innocence claims in Mr. Keith’s case. The new trial motion is still pending.
No court has ever had before it the entirety of evidence of innocence in Mr. Keith's case. 

COLUMBUS -- An organization devoted to freeing innocent inmates has gone to bat for a condemned Ohio killer, a rare move for a group better known for using DNA evidence to challenge convictions in non-death-penalty cases.
Kevin Keith
Kevin Keith
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.

I am a man wrongly convicted of a crime for which I have sat on Death Row since 1994.
My interests vary, but include reading, exercising, writing and studying scriptures contained in the Holy Bible.
On this site I have included a brief summarized story of the case explaining the main points of my innocence with verifiable documentation ("Exhibits) that prove my points. (Click here to visit that page) My goal is to publicize my wrongful conviction and raise public awareness to the case as well I desire help in the following ways.

Needing Legal and Investigation Assistance.
This inmate desires outside free counsel. Law students, investigators, and others who want to help this inmate with his case/appeal.
Charitable Donations to Deserving Inmate
This inmate desires assistance with writing supplies, stamps and or other charitable contribution if possible. He will explain what can be mailed to him and the procedures for sending items to him.
Religious Faith Center for Inmates
This inmate asks that you pray for him.

Kevin can be reached at:

Kevin Keith 295769
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505
This inmate Outside Contacts are:
Patricia at patvan3@aol.com
Kenneth at Kennheadley@aol.com

Kevin Keith was convicted on May 26, 1994 on three counts of Murder and three counts of attempted Murder in what the police officials describe as a drug-related slaying. Kevin was sentenced to death on each Murder charge.
Weeks prior to the Murders Kevin was arrested along with several others individuals in separate drug raids. All of theses were suspected drug dealers including Kevin Keith & were out on bond with pending drug charges against them during the time the Murders occurred. The states theory of the case was that the shootings had occurred in retaliation against the victim’s brother; Rundell Chatman; informing on Kevin and several other individuals drug activities in the area.

The Crime
On the evening of February 13, 1994 at approximately 9PM , a masked gunman entered an Apartment at the Bucyrus Estates Apartment Complex in Bucyrus , Ohio . Upon entering the apartment the masked gunman had brief conversation with one of the occupants before opening fire and killing Marchell Chatman, Marchae Chatman, Linda Chatman and critically wounding Quenton & Quenita Reeves as well as Richard Warren whom was living with Marchell Chatman weeks prior to the shootings. Warren was also a known drug dealer in the area.
According to Richard Warren after being shot he played dead and once the gun man left Warren ran out of the apartment across a snow covered field towards Ike’s Restaurant, yelling for help. Four or five more shots were fired, one striking him in the buttocks and knocking him to the ground. Warren was able to get up and make it to the restaurant where he was aided by a waitress. When asked by the waitress who had shot him Warren stated he didn’t know who the man was because he had ski mask on.
Another Bucyrus Estates resident Nancy Smathers heard several popping sounds at 9PM as she looked out her front door, Smather’s claimed to see Black Man run to the parking lot and get into car, as the car sped away it slid on icy driveway and into snow bank leaving partial license plate identification. When she was asked by police if she could recognize the man again if she saw him; Nancy Smather’s said NO.

Politics Influence Arrest
The community reacted to the intense news coverage with the demands the gunman be caught and brought to justice. It wasn’t two days after the murders that former, then President Bill Clinton spoke in Columbus , Ohio and made reference to the murders in a speech to support his “Tough Smart” Crime fight bill, local law enforcement were eager to make arrest.
On February 15, 1994 two days after the murders Kevin Keith was watching television at his home in Crestline, Ohio several miles from the crime scene when S.W.A.T team kicked in his door, guns drawn and pointed directly at Kevin confirming the target(Kevin) was in their sight. Kevin startled immediately lies on floor where the S.W.A.T team members begin assaulting him. Kevin yells from his beating & assures them that there are no drugs in his home as he was under the impression that the police were searching for drugs. Kevin Keith was unaware at the time, but would soon realize that a drug case would be the least of his worries.
Upon arriving at Bucyrus County jail and seeing the growing crowd of spectators and media personnel, cameras along with dozen of police officials Kevin realized that this was bigger than a drug case. Within an hour Kevin went from being at home watching TV with girlfriend to standing before judge setting his bond at 1 Million dollars and reading off the charges for three counts of Murder & there counts of attempted Murder. Kevin would profess his innocence, but such protest was ignored.

Kevin Keith's Alibi
Kevin’s Aunt Gracie Keith, who is also the aunt of one of the victim’s child, arrived at the county jail shortly after Kevin’s arrest. She gave brief statement to the media stating that Kevin was with her at 9PM at her home in Crestline , Ohio several miles from the crime scene the night of the Murders. Gracie Keith would eventually testify in court and provide Kevin with alibi.

The Case against Kevin Keith Is Filled with Inconsistencies
Despite Richard Warren & Nancy Smather’s prior statements that they couldn’t identify the gunman the police diligently & relentlessly convinced them to identify Kevin Keith as the gunman.
The Bucyrus Chief of Police Joe Beran feed the media fabricated evidence claiming that fibers, finger prints found at the crime scene match that of Kevin’s. And that all three of the surviving victims identified Kevin Keith as the gunman. However; during the course of the trail Sheryl Mahon, Latent Finger Print Examiner for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification testified that “none of the finger prints taken from the scene or suspected get-away car matched Kevin’s”. Mahan testified that “there was no blood on any of Kevin Keith’s clothes including clothing taken from his home”.
Michelle Yezzo, Forensic Scientist testified that “Foot impressions left at the scene by the suspect didn’t match any of the foot wear owned by Kevin”. As well Yezzo testified that “fibers collected from the crime scene didn’t match at Kevin’s home or clothing; nor did fibers taken from suspected get away car”.
Two out of the three surviving victims Quentina & Quenton Reeves didn’t identify Kevin as the gunman. Quentina claimed Bruce did the shootings. She was shown the photo line up, as to Kevin’s photo she said he wasn’t the guy she knows as Bruce who had shooter and the others. (In other words, Quentina specifically stated Kevin Keith wasn’t the shooter… Exhibit A/News Article)

Usual Suspects
Investigators made plaster impression of the identification in the snow bank made by the suspects get away car to reveal partial license plate “043”. The identification matched several cars in the Bucyrus area including car seized from Melonie Davison shortly after she visited Kevin in jail. It also matched a license plate registered to Rodney Melton, a Pharmacy burglary suspect & convicted murderer. Rodney Melton’s brother Bruce Melton was also a suspect in a state wide pharmacy burglary ring at the time. Kevin’s trail attorney suggested that this is the “Bruce”; Quentina Reeves said shot her and the others. Bruce being a friend of the girl’s father, Demetrius Reeves.
Demetrius Reeves & both Rodney and Bruce Melton were under a 99 count indictment and arrested on those charges shortly after Kevin’s arrest. They would all plead guilty in connection with the Pharmacy Burglary ring.
Police Captain Michael Corwin was aware of all three men drug activities as well knew of Rodney Melton’s previous murder conviction and was suspect in another unsolved homicide.
Captain Corwin admitted that he never showed Quetina Reeves or any of the other surviving victims a photo of Bruce or Rodney Melton. There were numerous attempts made by family members of Rodney & Bruce to consult with someone about their belief that both brothers were involved in the murders. And that the Melton’s own family members were fearful of them. (Exhibit B/Court Transcript).
Approximately 2 ½ hours after the murders occurred, Kevin traveled to Bucyrus, Ohio to pick up his girlfriend up from the General Electric plant where she worked. It was then that Kevin learned about the murders from her. His girlfriend learned of the murders from several General Electric employees who had visited the crime scene before coming to work.
Farnella Graham, a resident who lived across the street from the General Electric plant, found a single 9mm casing on her front sidewalk that would match casing found at the crime scene.
Larry Harden, Senior Special Agent for the B.C.I office who had previously worked with the Bucyrus police on several occasions, testified that “his initial report show that there were 18 shell casings found, but there were only 16 found”
Demetrious Reeves, the father of Quentina Reeves a surviving victim, also worked at the General Electric plant & when asked about the shell casing he pleaded the 5th amendment. None of the other plant employees who left the crime scene & came directly to work were questioned about the probability that one of them could have transferred the shell casing. The gun used in the murders has NEVER BEEN FOUND. Approximately 2 weeks before Kevin’s trail, there was another shooting which involved the Chatman family, Herbert Chatman’s home in Bucyrus , Ohio had been shot up while he & other family members were asleep.
The shooting occurred on 4/17/94, the police said that bullets from that shooting had been sent to the B.C.I in London, Ohio & those bullets did appear to be 9 millimeter, as were the ones in the February killings. (See Exhibit C)
Detectives would later admit that the bullets from the send shooting were sent to the B.C.I Lab on 4/28/94 . WHY? If the bullets appeared to be 9 millimeter, as were the ones used in the February murders, why would the police wait 11 days after the shooting occurred before sending the bullets to the lab for comparison? (See Exhibit D)
Where were the bullets being held for those 11 days that initially appeared to be 9 millimeter, as were the ones used in the earlier murders? Eventually the bullets from the second Chatman shooting (4/17/94) that the detectives claimed initially appeared to be 9 millimeter were “Supposedly” the same bullets submitted to the lab came back as being .38/.357 caliber.
One would have to question were the bullets collected on 4/17/94 from the second Chatman shooting were the same one’s submitted to the B.C.I Lab for analysis 11 days after the shooting occurred?
The prosecution’s claimed that Kevin Keith’s motive to commit the murders was a result of a Chatman family member informing of drug activities.
2 ½ weeks after Kevin was convicted, the informant’s Uncle Herbert Chatman kidnapped a female drug informant from Bucyrus, Ohio and was eventually indicted on 9 counts including intimidation of Police Informant (See Exhibit E)
The murders took place at an apartment complex. There were several witnesses who initially told new reporters and police that the gunman had a ski mask on his face. But police Chief Joe Geran, who didn’t witness the shooting, in his diligence to make arrest and get a conviction, said that the police didn’t feel a mask was used.
This is just one of many illustrations of how the Bucyrus police chose to dictate what witnesses had witnessed.
When witnesses did come forward disagreeing with the police that Kevin wasn’t the shooter they were eventually badgered & convinced to keep silent. (See Exhibit F)

Kevin Keith Jury Contaminated
Kevin had an attorney who wasn’t certified to try a capitol cases, a biased & inept Judge and contaminated jury. Kevin Keith’s attorney failed to excuse a juror who reported receiving a threatening phone call, another juror caught lying about discussing the case outside of the courtroom. A third juror who reported receiving collect phone calls from prison and fourth juror being seen driven to bank by deputy during sequestered deliberations without judges knowledge; and lastly a juror who admitted that they had “Baby Sat” for the arresting and leading detectives in the case.
The police department & prosecutor’s portrayal of Kevin Keith as being a big time level drug dealer wasn’t the case. On the other hand Rodney & Bruce Melton along with Demetrius Reeves were apart of one of the Nation’s biggest pharmacy burglary rings and under a 99 count indictment.

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