Ohio executes man for 1992 Christmas killing spree

Marvallous Keene (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)
Marvallous Keene (Source: Ohio Department of Corrections)

LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) - A man who took part in a 1992 Christmas holiday killing spree that left six people dead and two wounded was executed Tuesday, the state's second execution in less than two weeks.

Marvallous Keene, 36, chose not to file a late appeal over his death sentence for a series of slayings that included an 18-year-old mother gunned down at a pay phone. He died by lethal injection at 10:36 a.m. 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. Keene and three accomplices went on a three-day murder and robbery rampage in Dayton that began on Christmas Eve 1992. He was convicted in five of the murders.

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.

Gov. Ted Strickland last week denied clemency for Keene, who didn't request it. At a June 17 clemency hearing, Keene 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. Defense attorneys said Keene, who was 19 at the time of the slayings, was despondent over the death of his brother, who was shot and killed 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.

The killings began with 34-year-old Joseph Wilkerson. Keene and his accomplices arrived at Wilkerson's home under the pretext of wanting to participate in an orgy, prosecutors said. They tied Wilkerson to his bed and ransacked the house, and when Keene found a .32-caliber handgun in the garage, he returned to the bedroom and shot Wilkerson twice.

Later Christmas Eve, Keene and accomplice DeMarcus Smith approached 18-year-old Danita Gullette at a pay phone, took her jacket and shoes and fatally shot the woman, prosecutors said. Gullette was the mother of a 2-year-old girl.

Washington, 18, and Cottrill, 16, were acquaintances who sometimes stayed at Keene's apartment and observed Keene returning with stolen items, prosecutors said. They were shot and killed behind a gravel pit. Keene's accomplices are serving life sentences.

Ohio has put 31 men to death since it reinstated the death penalty in 1999.

John Fautenberry, 45, a former Oregon truck driver who went on a multistate killing spree in the early 1990s, was executed last week.

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