Suspect in Christopher Thomas case charged with witness intimidation
Reginald Keith, already charged with child neglect and failing to protect Christopher Thomas’ sister from the crippling abuse inflicted by his wife, Crystal Keith, was charged Thursday with intimidating a witness: Crystal Keith’s sister.
Crystal Keith, 25, was convicted in May of beating 13-month-old Christopher to death and torturing his then 2-year-old sister. She was sentenced in July to serve 50 years in prison.
The Keiths are the Thomas siblings’ aunt and uncle and had been their kinship foster parents. Reginald Keith, 27, was charged in February with failure to act to prevent great bodily harm to a child and child neglect. His trial is scheduled to begin in January.
One of the key witnesses in Reginald Keith’s trial is expected to be Crystal Keith’s sister, Veneesa Smith.
According to police, Keith took Christopher’s sister to Smith’s home on Nov. 10, 2008, after Crystal Keith had beaten Christopher, who would die from his injuries the next day.
The 2-year-old girl had been beaten, lashed and burned. She was covered with scars and could not walk. According to the complaint filed Thursday, Smith asked Reginald Keith what had happened to the child.
“Reginald told her that (the girl) does not walk or talk because she was born with several physical defects,” the complaint says.
“Reginald responded that (the girl’s) face was like that when she was born and her legs were swollen because (the girl’s) skin would ‘bubble up,’ ” the complaint says.
Reginald Keith’s trial was originally scheduled for June 1.
According to the complaint filed Thursday, Keith wrote Michelle Smith in May and asked her to persuade her sister, Veneesa Smith, not to testify against him.
The complaint quotes Keith’s May 8 letter:
“Hey Michelle how are you doing? I know I wrote you a couple of days ago. But I just went to court today and I saw veneesa on the witness list for the D.A. so can you tell her not come to court to testify against me on the first of june, 2009. Because my lawyer said the D.A. have nothing on my but only veneesa testimony that I told her what crystal told me. So my lawyer now trying to dismiss my case. So tell her please please michelle and please tear up this letter when you are done reading it okay michelle.”
The letter contains a postscript that says:
“PS: Read it and tear it up ASAP.”
Reginald Keith is scheduled for a hearing on the abuse charges Friday before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski.
Reginald Keith’s attorney, Glenn Givens, has alleged that Crystal Keith has attempted to turn the Keiths’ biological daughter against Reginald Keith. He has asked that a special prosecutor be appointed and that a John Doe investigation be convened to investigate possible witness tampering by Crystal Keith and Michelle Smith.
Borowski is expected to rule on those motions Friday.
Keith faces up to 18 years in prison on the abuse charges.
He now faces an additional 10 years in prison on the intimidation charges.