TAMPA (WFLA) – The ice cream man accused of two murders and four attempted murders has waited nearly a decade for his trial.
Michael Keetley, 49, has always maintained his innocence.
With the death penalty off the table, Keetley is looking at a life in prison if convicted.
Assistant State Attorney Michelle Doherty told the jury the state’s lineup of witnesses will prove Keetley lied to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies when he denied his involvement in the early morning shooting spree in Ruskin on Thanksgiving Day 2010.
“We will prove this case beyond all reasonable doubt through eyewitness testimony, through physical evidence that was collected at the scene and at the defendant’s residence that directly tied him to this crime,” Doherty said.
Keetley’s defense attorney Lyann Goudie responded in her opening statement that the wrong man has sat behind bars all these years.
“Michael Keetley is not guilty,” Goudie said. “This is a case of misidentification, unreliable eyewitness testimony and circumstantial evidence it’s not enough to convict in the state of Florida.”
Prosecutors say Keetley showed up to the Ruskin home on Nov. 25, 2010, posing as a law enforcement officer when he opened fire on several men.
“The witnesses describe that he’s wearing a black shirt with the word “Sheriff” in white on his chest and that he has a firearm and that he’s demanding he’s looking for somebody named ‘Creeper’,” Doherty said.
According to the state’s case, Keetley sought revenge for an armed robbery of his ice cream truck in January 2010, but his shooting spree targeted the wrong people.
Part of Keetley’s defense is that the shooting left him so wounded that he could not pull the trigger.
“His mother would have to help him wipe himself after he used the restroom,” Goudie said, “but he’s on a porch shooting?”
The state refutes that claim. Doherty said a witness will testify that he and his wife did target shooting practice with Keetley at his residence.
Even though investigators never recovered a murder weapon, Doherty told the jury it will prove through forensic evidence that Keetley killed brothers Sergio and Juan Guitron and shot four of their friends.
Goudie told the jury that after a night of drinking and drug use, witnesses only identified the ice cream man as the shooter after a mass text message with a photo of Keetley claiming he killed the brothers circulated among friends.
After a long wait, this is expected to be a lengthy trial. The state plans to call more than 40 witnesses, including the four victims who survived the shooting and a firearms expert from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Keetley’s parents are expected to take the stand in their son’s defense, Goudie said.