Politics

Is Ohio About to Execute an Innocent Man?

| by Reason Foundation

The New York Times
reports
that "an unlikely array" of judges and prosecutors is asking Ohio
Gov. Ted Strickland to spare the life of Kevin Keith, who was
convicted of shooting six people in a Bucyrus apartment under
orders from a drug dealer in 1994. Three of the victims, two women
and a 4-year-old girl, were killed in the attack, while a man and
two other children were wounded. But there are several glaring
problems with the evidence that was used to convict Keith:

Defense lawyers say another man told a confidential informant in
a separate drug investigation that he had been hired for $15,000 to
"cripple" the informant whose relatives were victims of the Bucyrus
shooting. That other man was also identified as the Bucyrus gunman
by his co-defendant in the drug case, said Rachel Troutman, Mr.
Keith’s lawyer.

Lawyers say that a critical piece of evidence in Mr. Keith's
case was fabricated. A police officer testified that a nurse who
treated the lone adult survivor had called the police station and
said the survivor identified his attacker as "Kevin." But the
original defense team did not call the nurse to testify, and a 2007
investigation found no nurse with the name given by the officer. A
nurse with the same first name but a different surname who treated
the victim stated in a 2007 affidavit that she did not hear or
relay the name of the gunman.

Mr. Keith's defenders also say that the photo lineup in which he
was identified by the only adult witness was prejudiced because his
photo was larger than the others, the photos were presented by
police officers who knew Mr. Keith was a suspect, and the photos
were displayed simultaneously rather than sequentially. The state
now recognizes those practices as likely to produce false
identifications and proscribes them in a law passed with bipartisan
support this year....

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The fact that the victim, a white man, was asked to identify a
black assailant also increased the chance of an inaccurate
identification, according to a panel of 13 eyewitness and memory
experts from universities throughout the country....

Some of the five people who offered an alibi for Mr. Keith were
never brought to testify, defense lawyers said.

Keith has exhausted his state and federal appeals, so his fate
is now in the Gov. Strickland's hands. A clemency hearing is
scheduled for tomorrow. Keith's execution date is September 15.

Keith's supporters have more on his case here.