CLEVELAND — A former U.S. attorney has joined a legal team trying to free a man convicted of killing three people who has long proclaimed his innocence.
Justin Herdman, appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017, stepped down as U.S. attorney for northern Ohio in January. Herdman wrote in a federal court filing this week that 57-year-old Kevin Keith should be given a hearing to consider his arguments after 27 years in prison, cleveland.com reported.
Keith’s death sentence in 2010 was commuted to life in prison in the 1994 murders of two women and a 4-year-old girl in what prosecutors said was retaliation for his arrest in a drug sweep in Bucyrus. He has proclaimed his innocence and argues that there are alibi witnesses, another possible suspect and inconsistencies in the evidence against him.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Keith’s arguments, but in 2018, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said “no reasonable fact finder would have found him guilty” based on evidence his attorneys contend was wrongfully kept from a jury.
The evidence includes the personnel file of a state forensics investigator who worked on his case containing allegations she had a habit of providing police departments answers they wanted in cases, and a copy of radio dispatch logs from the Bucyrus Police Department.
The dispatch logs are important because authorities have said they first obtained Keith’s name from a hospital nurse who called and said a shooting victim had identified Keith as the perpetrator.
But the logs do not include any calls from a nurse. The words “ignore for now” were also written at the top of a subpoena seeking the log at the time, according to court documents.
Killed in the shootings were Marichell Chatman, 24; her 4-year-old daughter, Marchae; and Chatman’s 39-year-old aunt, Linda Chatman. Three other people, including two children, survived.