Eyewitness testimony still raises ‘legitimate questions’

originally by: Workers World
published: 10th September 2010

On Sept. 2, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, bowing to the pressure of online petitions, letters, calls and e-mails from thousands of supporters, commuted Kevin Keith’s death sentence to life in prison due to “real and unanswered questions.”

In doing so he set aside the unanimous recommendation against clemency of the Ohio Parole Board. As highlighted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the prosecution altered the statements of a 6-year-old girl regarding Keith’s photo in a lineup, retaining the first few words of her phrase that “it looks like him” but failing to include her caution that the man “did not have a bump on his head.” (Aug. 22) Keith has a distinct rise in the center of his head.

The decision came less than two weeks before Keith’s Sept. 15 execution date. Keith has always maintained his innocence and has appeals procedures pending.

WW spoke to a number of Keith’s supporters and death penalty abolitionists to get their reaction to the commutation.

“We will not stop until his case is thrown out,” the Rev. Renard Torrence, Keith’s childhood friend and tireless advocate, said. “This case blows open the whole issue of eyewitness testimony, which is notoriously unreliable. This could help so many people.”

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