"Innocence groups back condemned Ohio killer of 3," is the title of an AP report by Andrew Welsh-Huggins, via Google News.
Innocence groups from around the country on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of an Ohio man sentenced to die in September for fatally shooting three people.
The national Innocence Network and a group of eyewitness testimony experts filed papers Monday asking the court to review the evidence against death row inmate Kevin Keith. The network, which has filed only four similar requests in the past two years, says it considers the evidence in Keith's case compelling.
Keith's lawyers say courts have never heard the full amount of evidence they say could exonerate him.
That includes an alternate suspect who boasted he was going to carry out the killings, an enlarged photo of Keith used during a picture lineup and witnesses who say Keith was elsewhere.
"Without the intervention of this court, a man whom the state has deprived of a fair trial will be put to death by that same state," Innocence Network lawyers said in their filing.
Keith, 46, was sentenced to die for killing three people, including a 7-year-old girl, in a 1994 shooting in northern Ohio that also wounded three others.
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 has exhausted his regular state and federal appeals.
The friend of the court brief filed by the Innocence Network is here; the brief filed by memory experts, here. Both files are in Adobe .pdf format. You can also view the the Petition for Writ of Certiorari seeking Supreme Court review of the case. It was filed last month.
A press release announcing the filings also had additional information:
Monday, the National Innocence Network, an affiliation of over 50 innocence projects and legal organizations around the country, and a group of leading eyewitness and memory experts filed amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Kevin Keith, an Ohio death row inmate facing execution on September 15, 2010, despite compelling new evidence of his actual innocence.
The briefs were filed in support of a petition of certiorari pending before the Court, Kevin Keith v. State of Ohio, which raises issues about new exculpatory evidence that was withheld from counsel and undermines the evidence used to convict Mr. Keith (the amicus briefs are attached). The prominent legal and eyewitness experts are urging the Court to intervene because the faulty evidence in the case – including erroneous eyewitness identification – unfairly prejudiced the outcome of Mr. Keith's murder trial.
No court has ever had the entirety of new evidence before it, yet alarmingly, Ohio courts have refused to grant Mr. Keith a new trial to present this evidence of innocence.
As the amicus briefs note, in 2007, 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. Furthermore, this primary witness who identified Mr. Keith did so out of a highly suggestive, photo line-up where Mr. Keith’s face was projected larger than the others, and the officer overseeing the identification knew that Mr. Keith was the suspect, sharply increasing the risk of bias -- precisely the type of faulty evidence that today's reform package seeks to address.
New evidence also identifies an alternative suspect who made a before-the-fact admission that he planned to commit the 1994 shootings in Bucyrus, Ohio that killed three people and wounded another three – the crime for which Mr. Keith now stands to be executed.
Mr. Keith has an alibi for the time of the crime supported by four witnesses. No forensic evidence conclusively links him to the crime.
Also Monday, Governor Ted Strickland signed a comprehensive reform bill into law aimed at combating wrongful convictions in the state, including measures to address the high risk of error in eyewitness identifications. Indeed, eyewitness error is the single leading cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in 75 percent of DNA exonerations nationwide. But tragically, there is a real risk that not all mistakes are caught in time.
Earlier coverage of the case begins with this post.