|Dave Keaton (photo: Edwin Tse)|
Dave Keaton, the 1st death row exoneree in the US and the 1st death row exoneree from the State of Florida, passed away suddenly at home in Quincy, Florida. He was 63.
He is survived by his siblings Elise, Thawanna, Victor and Edwardo. Keaton was an active and beloved member of Witness to Innocence, the nation's only membership organization of exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones, which he joined shortly after the organization's founding in 2005.
WTI Executive Director Magdaleno Rose-Avila said, "Dave Keaton was the 1st death row exoneree to begin speaking out against the death penalty. His false imprisonment and the life struggles he faced as an exoneree demands that we abolish capital punishment."
Dave Keaton was arrested in 1971 for the murder of an off-duty police officer at a Florida convenience store. Although details of the number of participants in the crime, the weapons used, and the location of the "getaway car" differed sharply from the state's evidence, an all-white jury convicted and sentenced Keaton to death. He was 18 years old.
Once he was on death row, the case against Keaton quickly unraveled.
Keaton was granted a new trial, but without the confession, there was not enough evidence to try him and the charges were eventually dropped. Ultimately, he spent 2 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, yet received no compensation from the state for his wrongful conviction.
In addition to being the 1st man to be exonerated from death row in the United States, Keaton was an outstanding poet and singer, giving performances across the country as a member of Witness to Innocence. His story of being wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death is immortalized in the motion picture and play, "The Exonerated," in which his story has been performed by renowned actor Danny Glover and countless others for over a decade.
Source: Herald Courier, July 7, 2015
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