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Government & Politics

Conclusions of Controversial Ohio Forensics' Expert 23 Years Ago Are the Crux of An Appeal Today

Ohioans to Stop Executions Charles Keith

A state appeals court will hear arguments tomorrow  from attorneys for a Canton man who narrowly escaped execution but continues to serve life in prison. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports the case hinges on the sworn statements of a controversial state forensics expert.

Kevin Keith was convicted three months after a gunman killed three people and wounded three others – including children – in a housing complex in central Ohio in 1994. One key to his conviction was a deposition by an analyst at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification, who matched imprints in snow to a car Keith could have been driving.

But Keith says no one knew then that the state lab had disciplined Michelle Yezzo and that she was reputed to be someone who “will stretch the truth to satisfy” prosecutors and police.  Keith’s older brother, Charles, has been fighting for his brother’s exoneration for more than two decades.

“I don’t even think anybody every saw the lady. I’m not sure what was going on with the trial attorney. All we saw was the deposition. We had no access to her personnel file. It’s a puzzle. :16

A lower court ruled earlier this year that the time to raise questions about Yezzo’s work was during the original trial. And the Crawford County prosecutor insists there was plenty of other evidence to convict Keith. In 2010, then-Gov. Ted Strickland vacated Keith’s death sentence because of questions about other evidence.