OHIO (USA): COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMS DISMISSAL OF ALL CHARGES AGAINST THOMAS KEENAN
September 19, 2013: The Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's dismissal of all charges against Thomas Keenan, a former death row inmate sentenced to death for a 1988 murder.
The appeals court also barred the state from retrying Keenan.
His co-defendant, Joseph D'Ambrosio, was fully exonerated in 2012 based on similar state misconduct to that found in Keenan's trial. Keenan's conviction was overturned by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo on September 06, 2012 because the state had withheld vital evidence from the defense.
After spending nearly 20 years on death row, Keenan was released, but the state said it intended to retry him. However, the trial court found the state's misconduct so offensive that it precluded any further prosecution, noting that "in the interest of justice and fairness, the harm done to defendant Keenan has been so egregious that this is the extraordinary case where the court has no other option but to grant the motion to dismiss."
In upholding that decision, the Court of Appeals said, "The degradation of this case began 25 years ago, when the desire to obtain a conviction overwhelmed the state's responsibility to seek the fullest truth of that day in September 1988."
Keenan and co-defendant Joseph D'Ambrosio, who was exonerated on January 23, 2012, were convicted of the 1988 murder of Tony Klann. Keenan's first conviction was overturned in 1994, but he was retried and again sentenced to death. His second conviction was overturned earlier in 2012 due to prosecutorial misconduct.
Prosecutors withheld evidence that could have exonerated Keenan and D'Ambrosio, including police statements that discredited testimony from the only eyewitness to the crime and evidence that the man who led police to Keenan had a possible motive for killing the victim. (Sources: DPIC 19/09/2013)