Kenneth Smith sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Ohio on 19 July 2011. He and his brother Randy Ray were convicted of killing Lewis and Ruth Ray. Both confessed to the murders. Items taken from the murder scene were found in their possession. Miscellaneous witnesses testified about the Smiths' plan to rob the Rays, and their later boasts that they had killed the Rays. There is no possibility that Kenneth Smith is factually innocent of the crime for which he is scheduled to die.
I provide the following summary of the case from Kenneth Smith's automatic pre-execution clemency hearing held on June 23, 2011. I quote from the section entitled Applicant's Statement. I'll annotate as I see fit.
This isn't about the case, actually, but it's silly to write six (6). If the word "six" is clear, then there is no need to add the parenthetical (6). If the word six is not clear, then just use 6.On June 7, 2011 an interview was conducted by six (6) Board Members with the applicant via videoconference from the Corrections Medical Center.
The applicant told the Board that he was truly sorry for his crimes and that he takes full responsibility for his actions that led to the deaths of Lewis and Ruth Ray. The applicant stated he is asking for clemency for his family, his kids and his church because his life has meaning to them. He is requesting clemency in the form of a commutation to life without parole. The applicant explained that he has two children, a son and a daughter, and one grandchild. He related that he has become a better person in the last 16 years, has stayed out of trouble, and has joined the Catholic Church where he is an active member.
The applicant explained that this offense occurred after a day of drinking and ingesting over 100 different pills. He was with friends and had tried to purchase marijuana but he was unable to do so. While he was at a local bar with his brother Randy Smith, the two began discussing their money problems. As they continued to drink whiskey, his brother suggested that they rob Lewis Ray in order to get money. The applicant stated he knew Lewis Ray had just acquired several saws that were being kept in his backyard under a tarp, and that instead of robbing them, they should go steal the saws so they could sell them to pay their bills.
There is evidence that Kenneth Smith carried a hammer as he approached and entered the premises of Lewis and Ruth Ray. There is also evidence that Kenneth Smith struck Lewis Ray at least 27 times with a hammer.The possession and use of this hammer indicates that Kenneth Smith is lying when he testifies that he intended only to steal some saws.
Kenneth Smith remembers that the victim hit him with a coffee pot, but does not remember that he [Kenneth] sliced Lewis Ray's neck from ear to ear with a large knife.The two drove to Mr. Ray's home, but parked down the street. When they got to the house and opened the gate, a motion detector went off and alerted Mr. Ray. When Mr. Ray came to the door, applicant and Randy Smith went into the house. While the applicant and Mr. Ray were seated at the kitchen table they began to argue about a friend of the applicant who owed Mr. Ray money. The applicant stated Mr. Ray hit him with a coffee pot and the two began to struggle. The applicant then grabbed a hammer from nearby and hit Mr. Ray. The two were wrestling and the applicant stated he doesn't remember much after that.
At this point, Kenneth left the part out him instructing his brother to kill Ruth Ray, about his brother strangling her, and about him [Kenneth] kicking Ruth Ray's head in to make sure she was dead.Then next thing the applicant remembers is looking for Randy and finding him in the bedroom filling up a pillow case with property from the Rays.
The two left the house and took the property to James Baker's house. James later took the property to his grandmother's house. The applicant admits he and his bother cleaned up, put the weapons, bloody clothing and victim's wallet into a bag and threw it all over a bridge.
The applicant stated that during his time in prison he has become a better person. He has maintained contact with his children through letters, but they have had limited in-person contact. He has also maintained contact with his younger siblings through letters and did write and recently received a letter from his brother Randy.
The applicant pointed out that he has blocked out a lot of the details of his offense. He admitted this is his coping mechanism as it was such a terrible crime. He also admitted that it is possible that the statements made at the time of the offense may be closer to the truth than what he remembers now. He believes he "had to block out the crime to live with myself' and he "created the story" to cope with what he had done.
I oppose the execution of any person who might be factually innocent of the crime for which they are scheduled to die. In cases where there is no chance of actual innocence, such as that of Kenneth Smith, I neither oppose not support the death penalty. Regarding the propriety of Kenneth Smith's execution, I stand mute.