Parole board recommends against clemency in 1994 slayings

State

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Ohio parole board has recommended against clemency for a man convicted in the 1994 slayings of three people who has long maintained his innocence.

Parole board members voted 5-0 against a pardon for 59-year-old Kevin Keith, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The recommendation now goes to Gov. Mike DeWine, who makes the final decision on matters of clemency.

Keith was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 murders of two women and a 4-year-old girl in what prosecutors alleged was retaliation for his arrest in a drug sweep in northern Ohio.

Keith has pointed to alibi witnesses who placed him elsewhere, an alternative suspect and inconsistencies in the evidence against him. Then-Gov. Ted Strickland commuted Keith’s sentence to life without parole in 2010, citing questions about the evidence and a “troubling” failure to investigate other suspects.

Several courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rejected Keith’s claims over the years. In 2018, however, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in allowing his appeal to continue that “no reasonable fact finder would have found him guilty” based on evidence his attorneys argue was wrongfully kept from a jury.

The victims of the February 1994 slayings in Bucyrus were Marichell Chatman, 24; her 4-year-old daughter, Marchae; and Chatman’s aunt, Linda Chatman. Three other people, including two children, survived their wounds.