The University of Louisville Students United for Peace and Justice, in conjunction with the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, will host Ron Keine at the Chao Auditorium on January 31 from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm with a light reception at 11:30 am. The event is free and open to the public.
Ron Keine was nine days away from a New Mexico gas chamber when an appeal stayed his execution.
Keine had been convicted of kidnapping, murder, rape, and mutilation of University of New Mexico student William Velten in 1974. A subsequent investigation by the Detroit News uncovered a bizarre campaign by prosecutors to coerce testimony from a hotel maid that was eventually fully retracted in a set of taped newspaper interviews. The story broke in January of 1975 and a new hearing was held, but the judge refused to grant a new trial.
In the fall of that same year the real murderer, Kerry Lee, had a religious epiphany and turned himself in for the murder. Despite his confession, thorough knowledge of the details of the crime, and an accurate hand-drawn map of where the body had been hidden, the district attorney maintained that Lee’s story was not believable and no charges were filed against him. Keine and the others did win a hearing, however, and the information Lee provided, plus the recovery of the murder weapon, finally resulted in the granting of a new trial. Subsequently, Kerry Lee was convicted and Keine, along with his 3 co-defendants, was set free.
Keine remains a leader in the anti-death penalty movement through Witness to Innocence, the nation’s only organization composed of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones. WTI challenges the American public to grapple with the problem of a fatally flawed criminal justice system that sends innocent people to death row.
Ron will speak to his experiences of being on death row and the criminal justice system more broadly.