MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - A Mandeville family and several law enforcement officers are gearing up this weekend for a clemency hearing next week in Baton Rouge.
On Monday, the man accused of one of Mandeville's only murders in the late 80s, will try and win his freedom.
"Keith was a wonderful man, I was blessed to have him as a brother," said Keri Kelley. But unfortunately, the images of her brother exist only in pictures and in her mind.
"The last time I saw him alive was Thanksgiving Day 1987," Kelley said.
Keith Mackey was a popular student at Mandeville High School who started his own business right after graduation. Keith's Towing was, and still is, a Mandeville mainstay, built by a young man known for helping others.
"Keith was a class act. He was one of the hardest working guys you could come across, started his own company at 17," said lifelong friend and Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz.
All that changed in late November 1987. Mackey was towing a car on Highway 190 near Greenleaves subdivision, when Michael Ondek changed his life forever.
"Keith was doing his job, he was towing a vehicle down the road, Ondek ran into the back of him. Keith got out to see what was going on, next thing he was dead. It was senseless," said Lentz.
Keith Mackey contacted his sister, Karla, who worked as his dispatcher when Ondek's vehicle slammed into him and started pushing him through a traffic light at Greenleaves Boulevard. Seconds later, he called her again, telling her he had been shot.
"Karla called police. Keith went back and told him to pull over, that police were coming. The next thing, Keith walked back to his truck, Ondek reversed, hit the car behind him and pulled forward and shot my brother with a .357 handgun", said Keri. "He had just enough time to call Karla and tell her he loved her, he knew he was dying."
Lentz, was a patrol deputy with the sheriff's office at the time.
"I was in my police car, I heard the call, and I was in the emergency room when they pronounced him dead. That hurt," said Lentz.
After pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Ondek was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He is scheduled for a clemency hearing on Monday. Mackey's family and friends plan to turn out in force to oppose his release.
"When we visit Keith, we go to the cemetery. When Michael Ondek's family visits him, they can go to Angola. He should not have a chance to do that to any other family," said Kelley.
During one of Ondek's appeals, his attorney argued that Ondek suffered from bipolar disorder, but the conviction was upheld.