UPDATE September 7, 2012: Yesterday, we wrote about the exciting news of Michael Keenan’s release in Ohio, making him the seventh person to walk off of Ohio’s death row. We reported that this release also made Keenan the nation’s 141st death row exoneree. However, the information we received was incorrect and we apologize. At this point in time, charges against him were dismissed, but as it so often happens in cases like this, the state said it will appeal the dismissal. This means there will be further proceedings in the legal case and that his exoneration status is yet to be determined. We are hopeful that we will soon be able to correctly report that Keenan is in fact the 141st death row exoneree in the U.S.
September 6, 2012:
After spending over two decades on Ohio’s death row for the 1988 murder of Tony Klann, Michael Keenan became the seventh exoneree from Ohio and the nation’s 141st death row exoneration when Judge John Russo dismissed all charges against him this morning.
Keenan was first tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in 1989. His conviction was thrown out due to prosecutorial misconduct in 1994. In April 2012, a federal court ruled that Keenan must be retried or freed due to newly discovered exculpatory evidence that prosecutors kept from Keenan during his previous trials. Prosecutors chose to push forward with a third trial against Keenan that was set to begin on October 31 but removed the death penalty in an effort to obtain a plea deal. Meanwhile, Keenan’s defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss all charges, and TADP joins our colleagues at Ohioans to Stop Executions in being thrilled that Judge Russo elected to do just that today.
Kevin Werner, executive director of Ohioans to Stop Executions said, “Ohio’s track record of making these kinds of mistakes is both troubling and a sharp reminder that our state routinely sends people to death row for crimes they did not commit. This is completely unacceptable.”
This wrongful conviction is yet another example of the brokenness of our death penalty system. How can we continue with a failed policy that risks innocent lives? The seven men who have been freed from death row in Ohio alone spent a combined 127 years imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Think of not only the years stolen from them and their families, but also the immense costs of incarcerating these individuals. We must remember the victims’ families and all of the prolonged pain they’ve had to endure as well. While the state spent years and numerous resources pursuing the wrong men, the real killers remained untried. How is this justice?
(Photo of Michael Keenan smiling as charges against him are dismissed this morning. Courtesy of Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer)
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