The 59-year-old from Crestline – who continues to contend he was wrongfully convicted of a 1994 triple homicide in Bucyrus – will have a renowned ally at Ohio State University’s campus on Thursday working to free him from his Marion prison cell: reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
Although the event, sponsored by the Ohio Innocence Project, was confirmed by an Ohio State representative, organizers did not respond to a request about whether it was open to the public.
“It’s not just Kim,” Kevin’s brother and anti-death penalty activist Charles Keith told NBC4, “but every person that I have presented this story to was flabbergasted.”
Keith, the subject of Kardashian’s wrongful conviction podcast “The System,” was sentenced to death after a jury convicted him of using a nine-millimeter handgun to kill three members of the Chatman family — Linda, 39, Marchell, 24, and Marchae, 4 — in their Bucyrus Estates apartment on Feb. 13, 1994, according to records with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.
Three others, including two children, were also seriously injured in the shooting, which prosecutors have described as retaliation for Keith’s previous arrest in a drug sweep.
Although eyewitness testimony pinned Keith as the killer, Keith has maintained his innocence. No physical evidence links him to the crime, nor was he in Bucyrus at the time of the shootings, Keith and his lawyers argue.
Inadequate representation at trial, coupled with an insufficient police investigation “pervasive” with misconduct, “snowballed’ into Keith’s wrongful conviction, according to a copy of his clemency hearing in 2010.
The Ohio Parole Board, however, has disagreed for decades. Each of Keith’s petitions for a pardon has been rejected, most recently in a 5-0 vote on Jan. 13, according to the ODRC. Survivors of the 1994 shooting spoke against Keith’s request for clemency in 2010, citing the need for the family’s closure.
Although Charles Keith celebrated Strickland’s move to spare Keith’s life in 2010, he said his brother, who is serving a life sentence without parole at the Marion Correctional Institution, remains deprived of his freedom.
“He’s been through everything the system can throw at him; he’s been executed in his mind several times,” Charles Keith said. “There’s not a whole lot more that they can do to Kevin Keith but to accept the truth and allow him to be free.”
Kardashian, an aspiring lawyer who profiled Keith’s case in an eight-episode Spotify podcast, is expected to participate in an Ohio Innocence Project-sponsored panel at Ohio State on Thursday, in part to talk about Keith’s conviction.
“I heard about Kevin Keith’s case last year & the more I learn about it, the more I believe the world needs to hear what happened to him!” Kardashian wrote on Twitter in 2019.
Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to review the parole board’s recommendation to deny Keith clemency, either upholding or rejecting its recommendation.