The David Allen Keen Story
DNA testing continues to be denied for Virginia man sentenced to two life
sentences plus twenty years for rape of elderly woman
Account by Tamela Carey
Edited by Barbara Jean McAtlin, Justice Denied Staff
On December 5, 1995, David Allen Keen was convicted of breaking and entering
a dwelling with intent to commit rape, and rape and forcible sodomy in the
Circuit Court of Tazewell County, Virginia. Shannon Cooke, a court-appointed
defense attorney, represented David and Judge Donald Mullins convicted him.
David had pleaded not guilty to the crime and, even though DNA testing could
have easily proved his innocence, he was convicted and sentenced to two life
terms plus twenty years in prison.
On June 13, 1994, David spent the day at the home of his friend, Jim Beavers.
Beavers lived across the road from the trailer park where Nancy Greer lived,
and about a half a mile from David's home. A little after 10:00 p.m., David
rode his bicycle home from Beavers' house and went to bed. (David rode his
bicycle everywhere after his driver's license was revoked for traffic
At 12:24 a.m. on June 14, 1994, the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office received
an emergency call. Sixty-three year-old Nancy Greer told the dispatcher she
had been raped. After she made her call to the Sheriff's Office, Greer went
to the home of her friends, Eddie and Rita Pauley. She told them she had been
raped but she did not see or know who had done it.
When officers arrived at the Pauley's home, Eddie Pauley told them he did not
see or know who had raped Greer but he said it could have been David
Keen because he had been in the neighborhood earlier that day. He also told
the officers that David was wearing a blue tank top and riding his bicycle.
Nancy Greer was taken to the Tazewell County Community Hospital (still
wearing the panties she had been wearing during the rape) where an
examination was performed and a rape kit procured. During the examination,
Greer told the emergency room physician, Dr. Sherif Shoukry, she did not know
who raped her.
At 2:00 a.m. that same morning, Dr. Shoukry wrote his report on Nancy Greer's
rape. In his report he says that, "Greer was alert, oriented, in no acute
distress; vital signs normal; neck was tender, abdomen tender; contusions on
the face, arms, legs, back and vulva; contusions around the vagina. Severe
atrophic vaginitis, yellow-white discharge tinged with blood, uterus
difficult to palpate, difficult to examine secondary to the atrophic
vaginitis. The anus was found not to have been penetrated."
Dr. Shoukry's report could easily have shown that Greer had not been
sodomized (as she claimed she had been) and it could have shown that, as a
result of her severe atrophic vaginitis, it would have been extremely
difficult to examine her to find out if she had, in fact, even been raped.
Dr. Shoukry's report was not brought up at David's trial and his defense
attorney failed to question the doctor about it.
When Greer was examined, her white blood count was an abnormally high 17,000
because of the infection caused by the vaginal disease. Severe atrophic
vaginitis can be related to many of the attributes that could lead to the
conclusion that a rape had occurred. Had the doctor's emergency room report
been followed up with an in-depth medical report, it may have been found that
Greer's vaginitis was transferable and it may have shown how long she had had
the disease. Either of these factors could have proven if Greer had indeed
been raped or had intercourse.
Serious questions about David's guilt arise when the handling of the evidence
from the Greer rape is scrutinized. At David's trial, officer Turley
testified that on June 14, 1994, he picked up the Greer rape kit from the
hospital and handed it over to Investigator Roger Nelson. Nelson testified he
hand-carried the rape kit to a laboratory in Roanoke, Virginia, on June 22.
Nelson had held onto the rape kit for a full eight days before turning it
over to the laboratory. Officer Charles Ruble testified he collected evidence
at the crime scene and packaged it to be sent to the laboratory for testing.
His evidence list included: "broken glass, mattress cover, sheets,
flashlight, fingerprints." He testified he turned this evidence over to
Investigator Nelson also on June 14. This evidence was delivered to the
laboratory along with the rape kit.
When questioning Greer on the night of the rape, she told the police officers
that she had taken one Excedrin P.M. for a pain in her hip before she went to
bed. She said she woke up and saw a naked man standing over her and that,
although he had already removed her pajama bottoms, she was still wearing her
underwear. She said she did not know when the man had removed her pajama
bottoms and she did not hear anyone enter her home by breaking a window and
she did not see or know who raped her.
Greer also said that after the man raped her for about a half-an-hour, he
took her purse and left through the back door. She said that when he was
going out the back door she was running out the front door to go to her
neighbors, the Pauleys. When the police officers arrived at the scene, they
called on Investigator Clarence Tatum, who owns a bloodhound, to continue the
investigation. At that time, Eddie Pauley told the police, he "did not know
who raped Greer, did not see anyone," but he "thought it could have been
After talking to Eddie Pauley, the officers drove over to the Keen residence.
At 3:00 a.m. on June 14, the Keen family awakened to flashing police car
lights blinking in their windows. The officers radioed the investigators with
the bloodhound and asked them to meet them at the Keen residence. Before
being moved to the Keen house, the dog had tracked about a mile in the
opposite direction of the Keen home to the home of Kevin Shorter.
Investigators pulled the dog off that track and arrived at the Keen home
about twenty minutes later. The dog was put to work in the Keen's driveway
but he did not give any signs he had found the rapist.
David's mother told the officers she knew for a fact David had gotten home
around 10:30 p.m. on June 13 because she had gotten up to use the bathroom
around 11:00 p.m. David was still awake and she saw him when he got up to get
a soda from the refrigerator. Nelson and the other officers entered David's
home and searched each room. They asked if they could search the dirty
laundry. They found nothing. David voluntarily gave Nelson the blue tank top
he had been wearing at Jim Beavers' house earlier the day before. David was
then taken to the Sheriff's Office where he was fingerprinted, photographed
and questioned. David had wrecked his bicycle a few days earlier and still
had a scratch on his neck from the crash. During his questioning,
investigators asked David how he had gotten the scratch even though it was
almost healed and it was obviously not a recent wound. That night, David was
released and taken back to his home.
Although they had turned him loose that night, on June 17, 1994, David was
arrested at his sister's home. When Investigators Tatum and Nelson took him
to their office, David asked for an attorney. Nelson told him, "You need to
admit to something, that's the only way we can help you, otherwise you are
looking at a lot of years." The investigators did not allow David to talk to
an attorney, but David continued to tell the officers he was innocent. Nelson
wrote up a statement saying that David broke into Greer's home looking for
money and pills but he did not rape her. The statement also said David broke
the window but he didn't know if he "had broke it a stick or something."
(Sic) David was then told to sign the paper so he could be read his Miranda
rights. David was not read his Miranda rights until after the investigators
interrogated him even though when David had said, "I want an attorney," that
was enough to trigger his Fifth Amendment protection.
Earlier in 1994, David had filed for Social Security benefits under the
Americans With Disabilities Act. The Social Security Board ordered an
evaluation of him to determine if he was eligible for benefits. The June 4,
1994, report from David's Social Security evaluation says, "This individual
had considerable difficulty following instructions in both verbal and
performance skills. Several times he gave inappropriate answers without
realizing his mistakes. He was extremely weak in the subtests, which concern
concentration, attention and visual motor coordination." David Keen's IQ was also reported to be only 68.
David's preliminary hearing was a sham. David's defense attorney was aware of
the Social Security Board report, but he failed to tell the court that his
client had not had his Miranda rights explained to him, or that he had been
interrogated without the benefit of an attorney. Nelson testified that the
statement being used against David was not the statement of David Keen, but
was what he and Tatum had written into a statement after talking to David.
The first statement the investigators fabricated said David didn't know what
he had used to break Nancy Greer's window. The investigators testified they
had not found anything that could have broken the window.
When questioned by the defense at David's preliminary hearing, Greer
testified that on the night of the rape she did not have her glasses on and
she could not see without them; there were no locks on the windows and she
had small night lights turned on in the living room and the utility room.
Greer also said it was dark in her bedroom and the man was naked when she
woke up. She also said she saw him put his pants and baseball cap on after
the rape but she only saw him from the back as he was putting on his
clothing. She could not see his face and she did not know she was being raped
while the rape was in process. Though David had been seen wearing a blue tank
top, Greer said, "No, he didn't have no shirt on." (Sic) When the defense
asked if she could estimate how tall her assailant was, she said she couldn't
because he was on his knees during the half-hour rape.
When questioned by the prosecution at David's trial, Greer testified that on
the night of the rape she had raised her bedroom window to get some fresh
air. When she was awakened, she said she saw a man who was naked from the
waist down and wearing a short T-shirt. She said she screamed and the man
slapped her. He then put her legs across her shoulders and put his penis in
her vagina. At that point, she told him he was hurting her and to let go of
her. She said when he grabbed her between her legs she told him she was an
old woman. He turned her loose for a moment but grabbed her hands and legs
again. Greer said he then put her leg on his shoulders and his penis in her
rectum. Greer said she told him if he would leave her alone she would give
him the money in her handbag. She also told the prosecution she could not
describe the man because she did not have her glasses on. She testified later
that the rapist was "tall, a little tall." (David is over six feet tall.) She
told the court the rapist was clean-shaven with a "new hair cut," and she had
scratched him on the neck. After the rapist was finished, she told him where
her handbag was. He put on his pants, his shirt and his baseball cap.
Before the rapist went out the back door, Greer said he told her three times
he would be back. She said she was afraid he wanted to come back and "shack
up" with her. She pointed at David as being the man who raped her. She said
she had met him at her nephew, Jim Beavers', house.
When the defense questioned Greer, she said she could not see the man's face
and she did not know if the man had a beard or not. She thought the man may
have had a shirt on when she woke up, but he pulled it off and put it behind
her bed. Greer also said "in a way she knew who had raped her and in a way
she did not" because she had seen him at her nephews' home before the rape.
She said when she had gone to the Pauley's house she did not tell them who
had raped her because she did not know who had done it and she did not give
any description of her rapist. She also recalled the first time she had heard
a name connected with her rape was the day after when people were saying they
had seen David riding his bicycle down the road and it might have been him.
The fact is, Greer was alone when the alleged rape occurred. She testified
that she did not give her neighbors a description of the rapist. How could
she when she had never seen him? She could not identify him because it had
been dark and she did not see his face. She first testified the rapist was
clean-shaven and then said she didn't know if he had a beard. She testified
he did not have on a shirt; a year later she decided he did have a shirt. By
the confused way Greer kept changing her testimony, it is very clear the
prosecution had coached her but she couldn't keep the "facts" straight.
Greer had purchased her home from David Keen and his wife. David often mowed
her lawn as well as other lawns in the trailer park. Greer had seen him at
her nephew's home on many occasions. About a week after the rape,
Investigators Tatum and Nelson took a photograph of David at the jail and put
it in a book of photographs they showed to Greer. They testified that she had
identified David as her rapist out of that book. Most likely, David was the
only person Greer had seen before and this is why she picked his photograph
instead of any of the others.
Mike Dennis, the Commonwealth's Attorney for Tazewell County, presented
witness testimony from Elizabeth Beavers, the wife of Greer's nephew. Beavers
testified David had left their home around 10:30 p.m. on June 14, 1994. She
said she saw someone on a bicycle going in the direction of the Keen home
about 12:30 a.m. She could not see who was on the bicycle and she could not
tell if it was a man or a woman. All she could say was that the person was
wearing dark clothes. Eddie Pauley testified he did not see who had raped
Greer even though his assumptions had led to the arrest of David Keen.
During their testimony, it was obvious that Greer, the Pauleys and the
Beavers had been rehearsed and coached by the prosecution. Mike Dennis is
well known for withholding discovery material until the morning of a trial.
At that time he announced his surprise witness -- a convicted felon who, of
course, heard the defendant admit to committing to the crime. A convicted
felon named Mike Smith testified David had told him he had raped Greer but
they couldn't prove it.
The rape kit evidence from the Greer case had contained fingernail clippings
taken from Greer, pubic hairs, DNA samples, and the panties she had been
wearing during the rape. Other evidence waiting to be sent to the forensic
laboratory included blood samples Nelson had taken from David. This evidence
was not given to the laboratory until June 24, 1994, a full ten days after
the rape. The evidence that was turned into the lab consisted of a mattress
pad, a set of sheets, a blue tank top, fingerprints taken from Greer's home,
and a piece of broken window glass. The fingerprints, mattress pad, sheets,
pubic hairs, tank top and panties have never been tested. Greer's fingernail
clippings came back clean -- she had not scratched anyone. None of this was
ever been brought to the attention of the court. A partial palm print that
matched David was found on the broken glass, however, it is unknown if the
palm print was found on the inside or the outside of the window. The court
never heard that David had lived in the trailer before he sold it to Greer or
that he had done work there for her. Either of these facts could easily
explain the partial palm print on the window. Any evidence that would have
exonerated David Keen was either not tested or the results were kept out of
At David's pretrial hearing, his defense attorney was made aware of a letter
written by Deanne Dabbs, the program manager of the laboratory. The
Commonwealth's attorney had not turned over this discovery evidence as he was
legally bound to do. The letter said the RLFP DNA testing in this case was of
no value. Counsel argued the only thing that could be ascertained from this
DNA information was that there was a 3.3. allele and it is not possible to
ascertain whether that 3.3. allele belonged to Greer, David or a third
person. The discriminating power of the allele is zero in this case.
David's defense attorney also asked for a motion to discover the proficiency
test data for Jean Hamilton from the forensic laboratory. They asked for the
actual test results of any proficiency testing in which she may have
participated to prove that mistakes could have been made in the DNA testing.
The judge denied the motion and said, "My God! Blood flows through her veins
the same as yours and mine. I'm sure she has made an error somewhere along
the line." The defense argued that without the test results Hamilton could
testify she never makes errors and the defense would be unable to dispute
it. The judge said, "I don't think you are entitled to that." Hamilton went
on the stand to say she had found the same 3.3. Profile in both Greer's and
David's DNA profiles and she said their genetic make-up was the same.
Hamilton said her RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism) testing in
this matter was inconclusive and there was no way she could have a database
recheck the profile. She said there are only 21 types of genetic make-up so
not everyone is going to have a different type; some people are going to have
the same type. In the letter from Deanne Dabbs dated April 17, 1995, she
writes the RFLP testing proved to be of no value. The letter says, "no
additional information can be provided regarding the contributor of the
seminal fluid beyond that already provided in the certificate of analysis."
The defense had been allowed $3000.00 to hire a DNA expert. Cooke failed to
hire an expert. He also failed to object to three of the jurors, even after
David informed him that these jurors knew him and his family and he knew
these people did not like him. Cooke failed to have them removed and failed
to bring the problem to the attention of the judge.
Evidently, investigators also failed to look for the pocketbook Greer said
the rapist took and nobody ever mentioned the amount of money that had been
taken from her. This was also not brought up at David's trial and no reports
regarding the pocketbook or the stolen money exist in the police files. Pat
Hensly, who lives in the same neighborhood as Greer, has told several people
that Greer had over $800.00 in her purse. He has said Greer's purse was found
on Davis Lane, the first place the dog tracked to. He has also said the purse
was on top of the furnace in Greer's home. The defense failed to obtain the
police files or to question the investigators to find out if there were any
Shannon Cooke failed to fully question Greer about the rape because he said
he felt sorry for her. It has never been proven Greer was robbed. Greer said
the rapist was wearing a baseball cap. David has never been questioned about
a baseball cap. It was never mentioned at the trial if Greer's purse had been
found or how much money had been taken from it. David has never been
questioned about these things. David's defense attorney failed to find out
whose house the dog first tracked or to obtain police files to find out if
the police were looking at any other suspects. David's court appointed
attorney did just as the court expected him to do. He allowed his client to
be convicted of a crime he did not commit. Dr. Shoukry's report clearly shows
Greer was not sodomized. It isn't even clear if she was actually raped.
David was convicted of raping Nancy Greer and sentenced to two life sentences
plus twenty years. He is now serving out his term at the Nottaway
Correctional Center in Burkeville, Virginia. DNA testing could prove his
innocence. David and his family have no money for an attorney. With the help
of a family friend who has no legal training, David now has an informal brief
pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. David did not have a criminal
record prior to this conviction.
Mike Dennis, Clarence Tatum, and Roger Nelson are well known throughout
Virginia for fabricating evidence to build a case around the person they
want to be guilty. George Horn, one of the officers involved in the
investigation, and officer Skip Honaker, Judge Mullins right-hand man, were
recently fired for destruction of evidence. Although Judge Donald Mullins has
been arrested for drunk driving, he has never missed a day on the bench. He
has been found guilty in the Circuit Court and the District Court, but
according to the judicial review board, he is not really guilty as long as he
appeals. Bill Osborne, who was at one time the sheriff of Tazewell County,
has also been found guilty of destruction of evidence.
David believes he could positively prove his innocence if he could get the
DNA testing he so desperately needs. He also needs a pro-bono attorney. With
the advent and the availability of DNA testing, for a man to be sentenced to
two life sentences plus twenty years for a rape he may not have committed is
David Allen Keen # 233003
Nottaway Correctional Center
P.O. Box 488
Burkeville, VA 23922
Rt 1 Box 196A
Cedar Bluff, VA 24609