Ohio rushing decision that cannot be undone

Published 11:37 am Friday, August 27, 2010

Four weeks from today, Kevin Keith is scheduled to die. The state of Ohio plans to put the 46-year-old Canton native to death for the 1994 murders of three people — one of them a child — in Bucyrus. He was found guilty just three months after the killings and has exhausted his judicial appeals.

But because its more expansive rules allow the consideration of newly uncovered evidence, the Ohio Parole Board heard a different theory about Keith’s case last week than any court — or jury — ever has. That theory focused on an alternative suspect and was based on potentially exculpatory evidence that was not made available to the defense at the time of Keith’s trial.

Keith’s new attorneys … have also raised important questions about the photo array that a survivor of the slaughter used to identify him. It was prepared by officers who knew Keith was a suspect and included a picture of him that was larger than any others. …

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At the very least, the evidence presented last week ought to give the parole board — and ultimately Gov. Ted Strickland … — plenty of reasons to call a time out. Before Ohio or any other state puts someone to death, it had better be sure that person is guilty as charged.

This page has long opposed capital punishment. It has also called for a moratorium on executions while Ohio conducts a top-to-bottom review of each case on death row and how capital cases are conducted in the state. The troubling questions around Keith’s case — and his fate — only reinforce those positions.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer