Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is facing that great election year nightmare: a convicted criminal asking for clemency. Only in this case, it’s worse. Death Row inmate Kevin Keith isn’t just asking for clemency. He wants a full pardon. The AFP has the story:
Several dozen former judges, lawyers and prosecutors have called on the governor of Ohio to halt the execution of a man they say may have been wrongly convicted of a triple murder.
Kevin Keith faces execution by lethal injection on September 15, after being convicted of the 1994 murder of three people, including a four-year-old child.
But an unusual coalition has formed in his defense, comprising former judges and prosecutors, as well as anti-death penalty campaigners, former prison directors and lawmakers.
In all, some 20,000 people have signed two petitions calling on Ohio’s parole board and Governor Ted Strickland to grant clemency, the group said in a statement.
“The main evidence used to wrongfully convict Mr. Keith was the unreliable eyewitness identification of the surviving adult victim who identified Mr. Keith after telling at least four witnesses he could not see the shooter’s face,” the statement said.
The group also alleges that Keith was identified in a “highly suggestive” photo lineup in which the photograph of his face was larger than the others presented to the witness for examination.
This is clearly a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for Strickland. On the one hand, if he gives Keith a full pardon, Strickland faces the charge of being soft on crime, especially if Keith really is capable of these kinds of crimes. We’ve seen that before. On the other hand, if he doesn’t give Keith a full pardon, Strickland is going to be faced with a lot of anger from the anti-death penalty and anti-prison wing of his progressive base.
Even so, if Mr. Keith actually is innocent, the signs aren’t encouraging for him, as Strickland’s already denied one clemency request this year.