Man who killed estranged wife beaten to death in cell


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A man convicted of killing his estranged wife and her boyfriend on New Year's Day 1998 in Ohio Township died Sunday after being severely beaten in a Clearfield County state prison.

William Albert Keitel, 59, was attacked on Aug. 2 about 1 p.m. in his cell in F unit at the State Correctional Institution Houtzdale. He and his cellmate had just returned from their work assignments, state police said.

According to investigators, Keitel's cellmate, a 43-year-old man, kicked and punched him in the head and shoulders causing severe head injuries.

Keitel, who had been assigned to SCI Houtzdale since March 8, 1999, was flown by helicopter to Altoona Hospital, according to the state Department of Corrections.

The investigation is ongoing, and no charges have yet been filed, state police said.

Keitel was found guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting death of his estranged wife, Michele Walker Keitel, 35, and third-degree murder for the shooting death of her boyfriend, Charles Dunkle, 34.

The two were shot as the Keitels were doing a custody exchange of their two children -- then ages 2 and 5 -- outside an Ohio Township convenience store.

Keitel was also found guilty of aggravated assault for shooting Michele Keitel's father, Charles Walker, that night.

The Keitels had been involved in a heated custody dispute following a seven-year marriage. They separated in October 1996.

According to police, the couple was supposed to meet to exchange their children at 9 that night, but Michele Keitel had forgotten.

William Keitel called the police, and Michele Keitel agreed to meet him 20 minutes later at the Stop 'N Go at Mount Nebo and Nicholson roads. It was located just a few hundred feet from the township police department.

After the two children got into William Keitel's car, Michele Keitel saw a .38-caliber revolver, registered to her husband, inside. She pulled the children out of the car, and the shootings occurred quickly thereafter.

Scott Coffey, an attorney who represented William Keitel in the appeals process, said he was saddened to hear of his former client's death.

"I always found Mr. Keitel to be a gentleman and a decent human being," he said.

The Allegheny County district attorney's office sought the death penalty for Keitel, but the jury hearing the case split 8-4 in favor of a sentence of life without parole. A jury must be unanimous to impose a death sentence.

region

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard.


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