- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) | A man who went on a 1992 Christmas killing spree that left six people dead, including an 18-year-old mother gunned down at a pay phone, was put to death Tuesday.

It marked the state’s second execution in just over a week and the 1,000th in the U.S. since capital punishment resumed in 1976.

Marvallous Keene, 36, who was convicted in five of the murders, chose not to file a late appeal of his death sentence.

He died by injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville — seven days after Ohio’s last execution. It was the fastest turnaround since the state executed two inmates in six days in 2004.

The Ohio Supreme Court, in denying a request last month to delay Keene’s execution, said it would schedule future executions at least three weeks apart so that public defenders will have more time to prepare clemency cases for inmates who wish to pursue it. Ohio has one execution scheduled per month through February 2010.

Keene and three accomplices went on a three-day murder and robbery rampage in Dayton that began on Christmas Eve 1992.

Victims included Sarah Abraham, 38, a convenience store clerk shot in the head after handing over $30 from a cash register, and Marvin Washington and Wendy Cottrill, two teenage acquaintances who Keene feared would tell police about his crimes.

Miss Cottrill’s mother, Donna Cottrill, stood when Keene entered the death chamber, but he didn’t acknowledge her or look directly at anyone as he lay on the gurney. When the prison warden asked Keene whether he wanted to make a final statement, Keene replied, “No, I have no words.”

He stared at the ceiling, then closed his eyes. His chest slightly heaved as the drugs were administered.

Seven members of the victims’ families who witnessed the execution declined to speak to reporters afterward, as did Keene’s attorneys.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, Keene’s was the 1,000th execution by injection since the U.S. Supreme Court permitted executions to resume in 1976. Ohio has put 31 men to death since it reinstated the death penalty in 1999.

The European Union presidency, currently held by Sweden, released a statement noting the number and calling on the U.S. to halt executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty.

“The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances,” the statement said. “We believe that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to protect human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights.”

Keene did not fight his execution. At a June 17 clemency hearing before the state parole board, he directed his attorneys not to present evidence on his behalf, saying he didn’t want to cause additional pain to his family or to the victims’ families. The board recommended that Keene not receive clemency, and Gov. Ted Strickland concurred last week.

Defense attorneys have said Keene, who was 19 at the time of the slayings, was despondent over the death of his brother, who was fatally shot a year earlier. At his trial, Keene also told a three-judge panel that a falling out with his father contributed to his troubled emotional state.

Prosecutors described Keene as the ringleader of a group that called itself the Downtown Posse. Keene’s accomplices are serving life sentences.

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