Federal Court to Hear Arguments in Death Penalty Case of Member of 'Lucasville Five'

The state says Keith Lamar of Cleveland, a drug dealer who had been serving 15 years to life for murder, ordered the deaths of five inmates during the 1993 Lucasville prison riot.

In an interview from the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Lamar said he hopes the appeals court will order a new trial, because he said there’s no evidence to tie him to those deaths.

“It’s been a hell of a journey to get to this point so part of me, I’m relieved, but I’m cautiously optimistic," Lamar said. "The criminal justice system, as I've learned over these past two decades, the promise doesn't always meet up with the reality, so I'm just hopeful."

Lamar’s execution date hasn’t been set as he continues his appeals.

Meanwhile, Lamar has been monitoring the discussions at the Statehouse about legislation that would shield the names of the makers of execution drugs – and even the comments about whether other methods should be considered, such as the electric chair or a firing squad.

"To hear those type of conversations, the debate going back and forth on whether we should bring back the shooting squad, maybe we should bring back the gas chambers or the electric chair – it’s just incredible to hear those type of stories and to be a part of that and to be on death row and to be directly affected by those decisions," he said.

If the 6th Circuit rules against him, Lamar could take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could decline to hear it. Three other inmates were sentenced to death along with Lamar for their roles in the riot – another of the so-called Lucasville five is serving life in prison.

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