Keith LaMar was scheduled to be executed Thursday, November 16. So to celebrate three additional years of respite, this death row prisoner released a jazz song on Thursday.
Music helps this 54-year-old African-American, locked up for nearly 30 years on death row in Ohio, to survive. Due to be executed by lethal injection this November 16, 2023, Keith LaMar, who says he is innocent of a quintuple murder in 1993, celebrates his saving life by releasing on streaming platforms a song with jazz and hip-hop accents composed with a pianist Spanish based in New York. Albert Marquès, Catalan music teacher in Brooklyn, has believed since 2020 in the “absolute innocence” of Keith LaMar.
With LaMar singing on the phone from his Ohio prison, Marquès performs concerts with his musicians in venues across the United States, South America and Europe, and released an album (Freedom First) in 2022 composed and performed at a distance with his condemned friend.
Thanks to the telephone, they even performed in a “concert from death row” on October 10 at the French embassy in Washington for the World Day Against the Death Penalty, as evidenced by the account ) of the chancellery. On the phone Tuesday with AFP, LaMar expressed “a sense of relief” that his execution had been postponed until January 13, 2027. This “additional time” will allow him to “assemble his formidable team of lawyers and his supporters to tell his story to as many people as possible.
In fact, its respite of more than three years is due to the fact that Ohio is no longer able to obtain supplies of anesthetics and chemicals injected into death row inmates: pharmaceutical laboratories refuse to sell certain components to state prison services. Americans practicing the death penalty by injection.
The song The Journey, on streaming platforms, is “a way of celebrating the victory of a very important battle of a struggle still to come,” rejoiced Albert Marquès to AFP, who welcomed the having created his “most optimistic” piece with LaMar. Imprisoned at age 19 for the murder of a drug addict friend who, at gunpoint, wanted to steal crack cocaine from him, Keith LaMar admitted his guilt at the time and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Incarcerated at the end of the 1980s, he was sentenced to death in 1995 for the murder of five fellow prisoners during a riot started in 1993 by Muslim prisoners who had refused to submit to a tuberculosis test because the serum contained l 'alcohol. The violence, lasting 11 days, left ten people dead, including a prison guard from Ohio. Keith LaMar says he has been fighting for 35 years in prison to escape violence, capital punishment and for his innocence: he told everything in a book (Condemned - 2014) dictated over the phone to his publisher.
The inmate listens to a lot of jazz, especially John Coltrane. A fan of “beefs” (improvisations on jazz classics), he said in 2022 he was composing and writing more and more. “Music can popularize my case among a wide audience (...) so, yes, the more people know about my case, the more public support I will have,” he admitted on Tuesday .
In a country whose history shows that a number of judicial errors mainly affect African-Americans, Keith LaMar is calling for the reopening of his case, tainted according to him by irregularities such as the destruction of evidence and the withholding of information. “When you are poor and black in a racist country, you plead guilty,” he said in 2022. The prosecutors at the time of his trial, Bill Anderson and Seth Tieger, were still judging last year in New York Times that Keith LaMar was "completely guilty and where he belonged: on death row."
He is today defended by civil rights lawyer Keegan Stephan, who intends to appeal his conviction because "there is a lot of reason to believe that he is innocent and that at the very least, he did not have a fair trial.”