In this recent blog post we discussed Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist Tom Hennessy’s recent impassioned column seeking the release of Richard Keech, an 89-year-old WWII veteran imprisoned for murdering Nick Candy, his former son-in-law. Hennessy writes:
“My father is in prison because he killed my abusive husband to protect my son, my mother, and me,” his daughter Nancy said in a recent advertisement she ran in the Press-Telegram. With the family trying for a compassionate discharge that would give their patriarch a brief stay at home, the ad sought letters of support from readers… Says Nancy, “My dad is not a danger. He is an outstanding man with a long history of compassion, integrity and good works.”
In the comments section a woman who is apparently Nick Candy’s first wife, writes:
I was married to Nick for 19 years and think that I am more qualified than most of the people to speak about how he was. During all our married life he was never abusive towards me…Martin, his son, has lost his father who adored him. I feel that the real killer has not been punished…
Again in the comments section, a man claiming to be Nick Candy’s cousin writes:
This alleged abuse was never proven in court…Nick Candy went to pick up his son for court appointed visitation. When he rang the doorbell, Richard Keech opened fire and shot him. Nick ran down the street calling for help and in pain, fell in a neighbors front yard. Richard Keech followed him and shot him several times in the back, in cold blood, in front of witnesses. Richard Keech announced for all the neighbors to hear “he won’t bother anybody else,” then he walked back home. the gun was found on the kitchen counter, void of finger prints. we never found out why they were wiped off… Do you all know what premeditated means? For God’s sake they were discussing on the phone (taped by the Keech family to trap my cousin Nick into saying something wrong, and [then they] forgot about the taping) with a friend, that Keech is planning to kill Nick! I was at the trial every day…he had 3 of the best lawyers…i suggest you read the court documents.
I looked up the articles written at the time of Keech’s conviction in 1997. They back up what candy’s ex-wife and cousin say in their comments. In one 1997 Long Beach Press-Telegram article, staff writer Helen Guthrie Smith wrote:
Richard Keech , a 78-year-old East Long Beach resident, was found guilty Tuesday of premeditated, first-degree murder by a jury that rejected his claims that he killed his son-in-law in self-defense and during a flashback to his experience in Japanese POW camps in World War II. After the verdict was read, Long Beach Superior Court Judge William T. Garner revoked Keech’s bail and sent him to county jail to await sentencing on Jan. 20. He faces 25 years to life in prison, plus up to 10 additional years for use of a firearm… Keech killed Nicholas Candy, 47, on May 21, 1996. Candy had come to Keech’s Carfax Avenue home to pick up his baby son, Martin, for a visit. Keech shot Candy once at the curb. He said he fired because he thought Candy was about to beat him. Keech then followed the wounded man down the street to where Candy collapsed and then fired four shots into his head and back as a neighbor bent over Candy to see if she could help. Candy and Keech’s daughter Nancy had been involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle since she left him nine months earlier and moved with Martin into her parents’ home…The defense painted Candy as a psychological abuser likely to resort to physical violence. Keech’s prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Amy Broersma [said] “I never thought the jury would go along with the (POW) defense. When I first heard the defense, I thought, `That’s ridiculous.’ “In 50-plus years, he never sought any psychological care” before or after the killing, she said… Keech and Nancy Candy, she said, “got caught up in a series of lies, and the sympathy factor was with the victim — as it should be — and not with the defense.” She said Nancy Candy lied when she testified that she never said she hoped her husband would be dead within a year, or that her father would have killed him last winter if he had come for Martin as expected. In a tape recording played in court, Nancy Candy is heard making such statements in a phone conversation with a friend. The Keech family made it a practice to tape calls from Candy, and had apparently not realized that call was on a tape turned over to the prosecution… She said Candy was not the brute the defense portrayed. Witnesses who worked with him, or attended college with him, described him as a good friend and loving father who was frustrated in his attempts to see his son and to talk with his estranged wife. Keech stood in for her when Candy came for the boy. “Nick Candy was good-natured and good-hearted,” said Anita Jones, his supervisor at Universal Studios, where he was a contract administrator. Another victim, she said, is Martin… Jocelyn Bunyan, Candy’s sister [said] “…He’s locked up. Justice is done,” she said. “If it wasn’t for (Nancy Candy’s) unwarranted fears and lies, (Keech) may not have done it.” Broersma said Keech must serve 85 percent of any prison term before he’s eligible for parole. Probation is not an option in a first-degree murder conviction. “Nick Candy,” said homicide Detective John Boston, who investigated the case with Detective Roy Hamand, “has to serve 100 percent of his.”
In a 1997 Long Beach Press-Telegram column, Peter J. Moore wrote:
Incredible as that may seem, the 76-year-old Keech had admitted to shooting Candy. Open and shut case, right? Wrong!.. Keech said he had purchased a gun and hollow-point bullets five months earlier for his own protection and carried it on his person every time Candy was scheduled to come to his home. On the day in question, Keech admitted that he drew a gun from his belt and shot Nick Candy once, but says he can’t recall pursuing his gravely wounded victim down the street, where he executed the unarmed and completely defenseless Candy, who had collapsed on a front lawn, with three more shots to the back and one to the back of the head. One can only feel a sense of anger and disgust at a judicial system which allowed a murderer out on bail and then waited more than one year and three months before bringing him to trial on a first-degree murder charge… On the witness stand, Keech seemed arrogant and contemptuous of the charge leveled against him, yet before court and during recesses appeared jocular with his relatives and friends, giving high-fives and pats on the back for what he thought to be positive testimony. The same could be said of the victim’s widow, who tried playing mind games with the prosecutor under cross-examination… Friends and relatives of Nicholas Candy were flown in from Florida and London, England…yet most of the time had to sit out in the hallway while their loved one was being trashed in the courtroom by Keech and his attorneys, Ed George and Albert Ramsey. There was a baby-sitter who looked after Candy’s young son, Martin, who said that she was terrified of the victim, even though they had never met and had only spoken briefly twice on the telephone… Assistant District Attorney Amy Broersma must have been ecstatic to have been presented with a case that a second-year law student could have won…
The injustice here isn’t that Richard Keech is in prison–the injustice is that Nancy Candy (aka Nancy Keech) isn’t.