Accused killer pens letter from Putnam jail
A 44-year-old man awaiting trial at the Putnam County Jail for two separate killings wrote a Letter to the Editor addressing comments made by the mother of one of his alleged victims.
In November, a grand jury indicted Jerry Carlton Keene II for first-degree murder of his cellmate, 20-year-old Austin Steybe.
Both men were previously charged with first-degree murder in separate cases and shared a cell in the jail.
In May, a grand jury indicted Keene for Thomas Lombardo’s death. Lombardo was reported missing from Marion County, and his body was found in the Ocala National Forest on March 4.
On Aug. 2, Steybe was arrested and charged in the death of his grandmother, Annie Ruth Flowers, 79, after relatives became concerned when they couldn’t contact her.
On Aug. 16, a grand jury indicted Steybe on first-degree murder.
A Nov. 28 Putnam County Sheriff’s Office warrant affidavit said Keene confessed to attempting to strangle Steybe with a bed sheet.
Steybe’s mother, Katina Simmons, wrote a Letter to the Editor published Dec. 6 in Palatka Daily News.
“My son will never get his day in court to prove his innocence of whether or not he actually killed my mother,” Simmons wrote. “He was only 20 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him, whether it was inside or outside prison. He did not deserve to die the way he did.”
Simmons ended her letter stating she believed, “Keene should die just like my son had to die.”
In Keene’s letter, mailed from jail, he said he empathized with Steybe’s mother, but “(Steybe) was not in jail for stealing loose change.”
Keene wrote he has been a drug addict and criminal most of his adult life, despite coming from an “awesome family.”
“I blame only myself for being here and losing my place among them,” Keene wrote. “I am no saint. In fact, I am the farthest thing from it.”
Keene is scheduled for pretrial in both first-degree murder cases Jan. 13.