‘Christmas killer’ Keene executed

LUCASVILLE — Marvallous Keene, notorious leader of the “Christmas killers” who murdered six people in December 1992, was pronounced dead at 10:36 a.m. Tuesday, July 21, after receiving an intravenous cocktail of lethal drugs at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility here.

“Marvallous, do you have a statement?” Warden Phillip Kerns asked before the drugs were administered.

“No,” Keene said, “I have no words.”

It was a somber affair. Seven relatives of Keene’s victims witnessed the half-hour execution process attentively but with little emotion. They said nothing throughout the execution. Keene’s two chosen witnesses, his attorneys from the Ohio Public Defender’s office, occasional dabbed at their eyes with tissues.

None of the witnesses made a statement after the execution.

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Keene’s body was to be released to the House of Wheat Funeral Home. His family was to take responsibility for disposition of his remains. He gave his personal effects to his attorneys and instructed they be destroyed, said Julie Walburn, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. She said Keene wrote what appeared to be letters during the night and gave them to his attorneys.

Sporting a mustache and goatee, Keene was obese, but it didn’t take an unusually long time for prison staff to insert intravenous ports.

As part of a recent prison policy to ensure the inmate is completely unconscious after the first drug, thiopental sodium, Kerns shook Keene’s shoulder and called his name twice. Then two other drugs were administered to stop his breathing and his heart.

On the last night of his life, Keene made a single call, to his stepfather, Walburn said. He watched television all night and got no sleep.

“The (execution) team said he appeared to be restless,” she said.

Keene phoned his stepfather, Marvin Parker of Dayton, from 8:01-10:29 p.m. Monday, Walburn said. Rev. Gary Sims, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s religious services administrator, was in the death house from 4:18-7:58 p..m. Monday and again Tuesday morning, but “the offender declined to speak or pray with Rev . Sims,” Walburn said.

Keene, convicted of murdering five of the six victims in Dayton’s worst murder spree, requested and was given a muscle relaxing drug at just after 11 p.m., she said.

He took a shower and declined to eat breakfast Tuesday morning. He visited with his attorneys.

Keene, ringleader of Dayton’s worst murder spree known as the 1992 “Christmas killings,” was transferred to the death house at the state prison here Monday.

Keene, 36, arrived at Lucasville at 9:43 a.m. Monday from death row at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. Staff members gave him a medical evaluation and checked his veins to be sure they could accept the intravenous lines containing a lethal cocktail of three drugs.

He received a “special meal” of his choice about 4 p.m. consisting of a porterhouse steak cooked medium with A-1 steak sauce, a pound of deep-fried jumbo shrimp, fries, onion rings, dinner rolls with strawberry preserves, two plums, a mango, a pound of white seedless grapes, two bottles of Pepsi, two bottles of A&W cream soda and German chocolate cake.

Keene, head of a self-proclaimed Downtown Posse of juveniles and young adults, was convicted of aggravated murder in five of the gang’s six killings. He did not fight his execution.

Outside the prison Tuesday morning, about 30 death penalty opponents held a vigil, carrying signs such as “Execute Justice, Not People,” and “Stop the Killing Now.”

The Associated Press reported that Keene was the 1,000th U.S. convict to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. He was the 31st Ohio inmate to be executed since the state resumed executions in 1999.

The pace is picking up: Keene’s was the third execution this year — Daniel Wilson died June 3, and serial killer John Fautenberry died one week before Keene.

Five more killers are scheduled to die this year: Jason Getsy on Aug. 18, Romell Broom on Sept. 15, Lawrence Reynolds on Oct. 8, Darryl Durr on Nov. 10 and Kenneth Biros on Dec. 8. But the Ohio Parole Board recommended Friday that Gov. Ted Strickland commute Getsy’s sentence to life in prison. Getsy committed murder for hire, but the man who ordered the killing received a life sentence, not the death penalty.

Contact this writer at (937) 225-2264 or tbeyerlein@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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