Petition to FREE Keith LaMar, Wrongfully Convicted Death-Row Prisoner
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
We are petitioning Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio to intervene NOW and release Keith LaMar, who is scheduled to be executed November 16, 2023. Twenty-eight years of hiding the State of Ohio's deception is LONG ENOUGH! Keith LaMar is INNOCENT. He was deprived of a fair trial when prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence, including eyewitness statements and confessions that PROVE Keith LaMar did NOT commit the crimes that led him to death row. In fact, there is ZERO forensic (DNA) or physical evidence connecting him to ANY of his charges; only the inconsistent testimony of PAID JAILHOUSE INFORMANTS secured Keith's conviction by an ALL-WHITE jury and judge. Justice was NOT served, and we, the public, will not stand by and watch another innocent Black man be executed in our (the taxpayers) names. This is not the Ohio, United States of America, or world within which we wish to live.
Based on recommendations set forth by the 2011 Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty–a body convened by the Ohio Supreme Court–we now call on Governor DeWine to release Keith. After all, it is this independent task force, made up of retired judges, attorneys, and college professors who recommended, "that no one should be indicted, let alone sentenced to death, based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of jailhouse informants." Why, then, should we accept Keith LaMar's death sentence? We do not!
Throughout the 28 continuous years of being tortured in solitary confinement (no matter decades of good behavior), Keith has endured brutal beatings, deprivation, humiliation, starvation, and dehumanization. And, yet, he has managed to find a way to project light into an otherwise dark world, overcoming all attempts by a hostile penal system to break his spirit. Indeed, he continues to fight every day to grow and thrive, spreading love and human decency at every opportunity. He has even started his own literacy program for at-risk youth while imprisoned, and generously gives countless hours to the task of helping juveniles avoid the pitfalls he knew all too well growing up poor and Black. Keith is a teacher in the truest sense of the word, uplifting all types of people who need hope. He has served his original sentence more than abundantly, and deserves to go home to his family and community, who desperately need and love him.
Thank you for adding your voice to our collective cry: "JUSTICE for Keith LaMar!" Please sign in the right-hand column.
In addition to signing this petition, you can make an enormous difference with even a small donation toward Keith's Legal Defense Fund; while we call upon and hope Governor DeWine will do the right thing, we are losing precious time every day. Our most urgent need is to hire attorneys who will fight earnestly for Keith in these most crucial final months. Getting back in court for a retrial (which he will win if all our uncovered/previously hidden evidence is able to be presented) is going to take BIG money, and the only way to accomplish this is TOGETHER. Please donate what you are able to for Keith's Legal Defense Fund, knowing that your effort just might save his life. That is REAL TALK. We thank you in advance. Please go to: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/justice-for-keith-lamar-ldf-1/
Help us spread the word! Please follow us and share Keith LaMar's story on your social media:
Keith is still breathing. Let's not wait for him to become a hashtag! Learn more about getting involved at www.keithlamar.org
What Happened to Keith?
In 1989, Keith LaMar (aka Bomani Shakur) came to prison at age 19. He had been living in Cleveland, Ohio, where he sold drugs as a means of survival in the crack-infested streets he knew as home. On a day that would forever change his life, Keith was robbed at gunpoint and exchanged gunfire with his robbers. He was shot in his legs and hit one of the other men in the chest. That young man, a childhood friend, died. Keith believes in truth and justice and was sentenced to prison for 17 years-to-life.
Six years later, while attempting to put together the broken pieces of his life at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, Keith LaMar was once again ruled guilty, this time by an all-white jury in an all-white county in southern Ohio. To this day, Keith maintains his innocence of crimes he was framed for by the State of Ohio, crimes he can prove he did not commit during the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. In spite of his innocence, Keith continues to be held indefinitely in solitary confinement in a steel cage no larger than a closet, where he has spent the past two and a half decades. In all this time, he has not been able to see or touch grass or feel the wind blow against his skin. For sixteen of those years, Keith wasn't even allowed to touch a loved one until his 2011 hunger strike finally afforded him access to semi-contact visits (thick glass separation with just a small hole). It would be eighteen years in all until he could his family again when full-contact visits were granted.
In spite of being made to suffer inhumane conditions these three decades, Keith continues to pour love and knowledge on friends and strangers alike, inspiring them to find ways to live their lives with purpose. He has founded the Native Sons Literacy Project to help kids caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline discover that reading will open doors they never could imagine. Through his efforts, Keith has been able to get hundreds of meaningful books in the hands of at-risk juveniles. He exchanges calls and letters with high school and college classes, inspiring people to live their most meaningful lives while they can.
Keith LaMar’s is a story about racialized injustice, State corruption, struggle, perseverance and truth. He has laid it all out in Condemned, a soulful, fiery, and captivating book. In it, he traces how the prosecutors fabricated a case against him, then goes on to dismantle their lies by highlighting their inconsistencies. Keith shows clearly how his Constitutional rights were violated by the State of Ohio's willful withholding of evidence favorable to his defense. Most importantly, he compels readers to consider their place within the larger social system, inviting those who would stand on the side of social justice to join him, not just on his behalf, but also for the countless nameless, faceless people caught up in the struggle for humanity. Order Condemned here: www.keithlamar.org/condemned
A documentary film that focuses on the State’s intentional railroading of Keith LaMar was made available online October 2014. In just 36 short minutes, the issues about what happened in Keith's legal case are illuminated. The film was updated in 2019 and can be viewed by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4iOQ24Jamk
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
From: [Your Name]
Ohio Death Row prisoner Keith LaMar is scheduled to be executed November 16, 2023. We, a group of engaged citizens, are calling on you to look into the particulars of Keith's case, as he was deprived of a fair trial in 1995 following the prison uprising at SOCF. Evidence that proves his innocence has been uncovered, including a confession to a murder given in the early aftermath of the riot, an inmate's life for whom Keith will ultimately be executed. This evidence was never turned over by the prosecution, a clear violation of Keith's Constitutional Rights, and, thus, has never been heard in any court. Jailhouse informants were incentivized by the State to lie at trial, in spite of gross inconsistencies with their earlier interviews. Not one bit of forensic or physical evidence against Keith was ever found, because there was none. And Keith was convicted by an all-white jury, a Batson violation. Indeed, in nearly three decades, Keith has never once wavered in his insistence that he was not involved; that is because he is innocent.
Based on recommendations set forth by the 2011 Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty–a body convened by our Ohio Supreme Court and made up of retired judges, attorneys, and college professors–"no one should be indicted, let alone sentenced to death, based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of jailhouse informants." Why, then, should Ohioans accept Keith LaMar's death sentence? We do not!
Governor DeWine, we respectfully ask you to consider the fact that Keith more than abundantly has served his original sentence, a tragedy borne out of poverty and desperation in his teenage years to which he quickly confessed at the time. Were it not for this prison uprising occurring (which the State acknowledges was completely out of his control), Keith would have more than likely been home by now based on the humility, courage, and remarkable personal growth he has demonstrated during his 32 years in prison. We ask you to give weight to the fact that he has spent past 28 years in indefinite solitary confinement in spite of his innocence, and these years have been exceptionally cruel and unusual. This man has been punished enough, which is why we are asking you to fully exonerate him. Life without the possibility of parole would not repair the harm of the injustice that has been his wrongful conviction to death row for nearly three decades.
In spite of everything that Keith has endured, the 51-year-old man we know today is a true asset to society. He manages to bring an incredible amount of love and hope to the people whose lives he touches. He is a generous educator who has founded a literacy project for at-risk youth. Keith is surrounded by the support of family and friends, many of whom teach at America's finest educational institutions, serve in law enforcement, provide community care as faith leaders, work in the arts, and save lives as frontline nurses and doctors. We are eager to welcome and help him acclimate back into society, as we have no doubt that Keith is a much-needed light in this dark world. After all, we have experienced Keith LaMar; he has saved many of us in our darkest hours by offering us encouragement and friendship.
Sir, you are in the unique position to save and restore the life of someone most deserving. We appeal to your faith in God (which you make so apparent!) and your sense of human decency to set this travesty right. The public cannot be asked to watch another innocent Black man be executed in our names. This is not the Ohio, United States of America, or world within which we should hope to live. Please do the morally righteous thing, and exonerate Keith LaMar fully.
God bless you for your service to Ohio, particularly during these most trying of times.