A crowd swarmed around Sean P. Keenan as he entered Orchard Park Town Court for his felony hearing Friday afternoon.
The 21-year-old arrested in the slaying of his father, John P. Keenan, 70, bowed his head as he walked past several cameras. They captured his brown, uneven hair – closely shaved above the forehead and longer in the back. They also saw red and pinkish blemishes that dotted his face and a scruffy beard that had grown longer since his mugshot was taken Monday night.
But not only cameras followed the young man in a white jail suit and handcuffs as he made his way into the courtroom flanked by two Erie County sheriff’s deputies. Plenty of familiar faces greeted him, as well.
About 20 friends and former classmates turned out in support of Keenan, who has entered a not- guilty plea. A grand jury indicted Keenan on a charge of second-degree murder. He is still being held without bail in the Erie County Holding Center, and his case was adjourned to 5 p.m. July 24. There is a strong likelihood the case will be moved to a higher court by then.
Supporters sat together in the gallery during the hearing. When they left the courtroom, tears streamed from the eyes of a few young women. Some embraced others in distress.
Nikiya Garza, Keenan’s ex-girlfriend, who graduated with him from Orchard Park High School in 2011, said he lived in a “troubled home” but was a great person.
“We were all shocked to hear this,” Garza said. “We didn’t know what to think; we still don’t know what to think. It hurts people I care about and it hurts the family to hear people that don’t even know anything about the family or Sean to say things that they’ve been saying.”
Facebook posts have called Keenan a “monster,” but that isn’t the case, she said.
Said Shannon Robinson, a year behind Keenan in school: “They’re making assumptions without knowing, but everyone who’s friends with him and pretty much everyone from Orchard Park High School who knew him has had his back. We just want him to know that we love him, and that’s why we’re here.”
Authorities at the international Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls alerted local police Monday morning of a man they had stopped named Sean Keenan. He was acting strangely, disguised to appear older and using his father’s passport. Orchard Park police discovered the bludgeoned and stabbed body of John Keenan inside his upscale home at 2 Hillsboro Drive. The victim was the founder and president of the Institute for Leadership and Global Education.
Police said Sean Keenan struck his father with an end table before stabbing and killing him.
“That person wasn’t Sean,” said Josh Smyth, who said Keenan is one of his closest friends. “Sean is a great kid, a great friend and a great human being.”
Smyth dismissed speculation that drugs could have played a role.
“I can say with 100 percent certainty that Sean Keenan was not on any drugs of any kind,” he said. “When court happens, I think then more will come out and there will be a light to come at the end of the tunnel.”