Charges Expected in 1991 Murder
From the Columbus Dispatch, May 6, 2008


Marvin Lee Smith, Jr.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008
By Holly Zachariah

LONDON, Ohio --- Marvin Lee Smith Jr. stood before a Madison County judge yesterday and denied molesting a 15-year-old Westland High School cheerleader 17 years ago.

He is charged with corruption of a minor, a third-degree felony. Smith, who once served nearly nine years in an Ohio prison for rape, kidnapping and robbery, was arrested in North Carolina last month.

An Ohio law that took effect in 2005 requires DNA collection from all felons. Investigators only recently matched Smith's sample to evidence in this old case.

The cheerleader, Jessica Lyn Keen, wasn't just raped. Authorities say her attacker snatched her from a Weinland Park bus stop in Columbus on March 15, 1991, forced her into a vehicle and drove her to a Madison County cemetery.

There, she got away. But someone hunted her down and stalked her through the graveyard. Eventually, she was caught.

A cemetery visitor found her naked body two days later. Jessica had been

beaten to death. It was a horrific crime that haunted investigators and devastated the girl's family. It has never been solved.

Eight deputies were posted around the courtroom yesterday, and Judge Robert D. Nichols set bond at $1 million. Jessica's parents and her sister showed obvious relief that there is now little chance Smith will get out of jail.

Nichols said a high bond is necessary because he expects it could soon become a death-penalty case. Madison County Prosecutor Steve Pronai said he is awaiting additional test results on the old evidence and that Smith will likely be charged in the girl's death.

Smith was represented by an attorney from the Ohio Public Defender's Office.

News Watch