Keith LaMar, Ohio
Updated: Monday, November 11, 2023
Keith LaMar was scheduled to be executed in Ohio on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville, Ohio. His execution has been rescheduled for January 13, 2027. Fifty-four-year-old Keith is convicted of murdering five prisoners, Albert Staiano, Bruce Vitale, William Svette, Darrell Depina, and Dennis Weaver, during a riot at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio in April 1993. He was sentenced to death for four of the murders. For the last 28 years, Keith has been on Ohio’s death row.
Keith had a troubled upbringing. Drug activity and violence were common throughout the neighborhood and he was often beaten by his stepfather. He dropped out of school as a teenager and became a drug dealer. In 1989, at the age of 19, Keith was arrested and given an 18-years to life prison sentence for murder. Keith claims it was self-defense, as he was being robbed at the time.
On April 11, 1993, Easter Sunday, a riot broke out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, where Keith LaMar was serving his time. Several prison guards were taken hostage, along with a few inmates accused of being informants. Three unlikely gangs came together to organize the riot: Gangster Disciples, Black Muslims, and the Aryan Brotherhood. LaMar did not belong to any of the gangs. The riot was due to overcrowding, mismanagement of the facility, and Muslim frustration over mandatory tuberculosis testing, which violated the Muslim’s religious beliefs.
LaMar was in the exercise yard at the time the riot broke out. He, along with two other inmates, returned to their cells to check on their belongings. They were unable to return to the exercise yard. LaMar approached a member of the gang and asked if he and the two others could return to the exercise yard if they killed the “snitches.”
Eventually, permission was granted. LaMar walked around recruiting a few more people to help. They became known as the death squad. The death squad retrieved weapons, donned masks, and began going to cells, dragging people out and beating them. LaMar was often one of the people to enter the cells and drag out the suspected informers. Albert Staiano, Bruce Vitale, William Svette, and Darrell Depina were beaten by LaMar’s group. They all eventually died from their injuries. A few other inmates were also beaten and injured, but they survived. After the attacks, the death squad was allowed to reenter the recreation yard. They remained together, discussing what had just happened. LaMar spotted another inmate, Dennis Weaver, in the yard and remarked that he wished he could have killed Dennis.
Later that day, law enforcement officers took the inmates in the recreation yard into new cells. LaMar was placed in a cell with several inmates including Dennis. Tensions rose in the cell, with LaMar accusing Dennis of being a snitch. Eventually, LaMar attacked him and bound him up. LaMar ordered other inmates to kill Dennis, or else they would be killed instead. LaMar then attempted to make Dennis’ death look like a suicide and ordered everyone else in the cell to say Dennis committed suicide.
LaMar was convicted in the murders of Albert Staiano, Bruce Vitale, William Svette, Darrell Depina, and Dennis Weaver. LaMar, who was designated as a principal offender, was sentenced to death for the murders of Albert, Bruce, William, and Darrell. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Dennis. During his trial, LaMar insisted that he was innocent and did not commit any of the murders. He has since accused the state of Ohio of covering up evidence that would prove his innocence.
Keith LaMar’s execution has been rescheduled due to ongoing problems Ohio has experienced in obtaining execution drugs.
Pray for peace for the families of Albert Staiano, Bruce Vitale, William Svette, Darrell Depina, and Dennis Weaver. Pray for strength for the family of Keith LaMar. Please pray that if Keith is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be provided before the execution. Pray that Keith will develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
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