Ron Keine

Ron Keine spent two years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

“I was nine days from my execution date when a man walking down the street got an epiphany. He said Jesus came into his heart and he went to church and confessed to the pastor that he did the murder. He wrote out a confession, explaining how he did it and everything. He even had a witness that saw this, helped him drag the body up into the mountains and it turns out he’s a police officer. Okay. He not only told them about himself, he snitched out all the other police who covered up from him. He said that he gave his gun to the sheriff and the sheriff said, ‘You get the hell out of here. Give me your gun. Get the hell outta here, I’ll take care of this.’ And in the confession, he said he saw the sheriff put the gun in the safe. So here we are, two years alter, we’re in a retrial to get out, and our attorneys got a warrant to open the sheriff’s safe and there was the gun. It was still in there. Now here is the important part, that doctor showing the body up there on the screen, he got up and under oath he testified that he lied. He said, ‘I never ever saw the body,’ He said, ‘Some of those pictures up there weren’t even from that murder.’ He said, ‘I lied about it. The prosecutor paid me $50,000 to lie.’ You know, so after all of that they finally let us out, and then they put the cop in prison. They gave him seven and a half years. He got out and then killed somebody else. He got six and a half years for that. He got out of that and he raped a woman and they only gave him five years for that, because he was a cop.”

Ron Keine, Board Member of Witness to Innocence, was one of four men wrongfully convicted and sentenced to die for a crime they did not commit. He spent two years on death row before being released in 1976, when the murder weapon was traced to a law enforcement officer who admitted to the killing.

Ron has since been fighting wrongful convictions and the death penalty, lobbying, writing and speaking to share his story with audiences and in media throughout the world. He previously served Witness to Innocence as a Peer Specialist, supporting his fellow exonerees. He is currently on the Board of Proving Innocence in Michigan, where he lives and has served in various professional, civic and volunteer roles. Ron travels to Texas annually because it is one of the worst states for the death penalty; he and fellow exonerees Shujaa Graham, Albert Burrell, and Clarence Brandley were honored with a legislative resolution in their names.

© 2024 Martin Schoeller
Death Row Exonerees

︎Moving Portraits
︎Short Documentaries

Through partnership with Witness to Innocence, Martin photographed, interviewed, and filmed death row exonerees, recording and sharing their stories of how they were sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit.* 

I have been living in the US for 25 years and, as a German national raised in the shadow of the Nazi regime, remain appalled by state-sponsored murder. In this series I partnered with Witness to Innocence, the organization founded by activist Sister Helen Prejan and death row exoneree, Ray Krone.  As they fight to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. and to shine a harsh light on the profound, damning flaws in the ways these laws are applied, 189 women and men that were sentenced to die have been exonerated.

I wanted to present viewers with a harrowing, interactive account of the stories of innocent people forced to endure government-sanctioned horror.  These women and men bear dignified witness to the unacceptable costs of a misguided system of laws in desperate need of revision and a prison system that focuses on retaliation and rehabilitation.
– Martin Schoeller

*individual texts courtesy of Witness to Innocence

2020, Death Row Exonerees, Fotografiska, New York, New York, USA
2020, Works, NRW Forum, Berlin, Germany

Selected Press
Sentenced to death, but innocent: These are stories of justice gone wrong, National Geographic, USA
Martin Schoeller: Moving Portraits, Witness to Innocence, USA
Martin Schoeller: Death Row Exonerees, Air Mail Arts Intel, USA
Death Row Exonerees, ArtForum, USA
Martin Schoeller/Death Row Exonerees, Flaunt Magazine, USA
Interview: Martin Schoeller at Fotografiska New York Re-Opening, Musée Magazine, USA
Death Row Exonerees: behind a powerful photo project on injustice, The Guardian, USA
Martin Schoeller: ‘I am trying to show a humanity I think we all share’, TimeOut Shanghai, China
Death Row Exonerees Exhibit Featured in the Guardian, Witness to Innocence, USA