Kenny Richey

Kenny Richey

Kenneth ('Kenny') T. Richey (born 3 August 1964 in Zeist, Netherlands) is a UK-US dual citizen, born to a Scottish mother and American father, who was raised in Scotland, United Kingdom but moved to Ohio, United States to join his father in late 1982. He was on death row for 21 years in Ohio after being convicted in 1987 of murdering two year-old Cynthia Collins by arson in 1986. In December 2007 he accepted a plea bargain which led to his release from death row and return to his native Scotland on 9 January 2008. [cite news | url= | title=Freed death row Scot arrives home | publisher=BBC News | accessdate=2008-01-09 | date=2008-01-09]

Richey's plea bargain involved pleading 'no contest' to child endangering, and being sentenced to time served, with the murder and arson charges dropped. A 'no contest' plea is not an admission of guilt. The accused by entering a no contest plea is not disputing, but not admitting, the charges.Richey was due to be re-tried in March 2008 following a ruling in August 2007 of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that overturned Richey's conviction following the prosecution's appeal of that ruling to the United States Supreme Court on a legal technicality concerning the common law theory of transferred intent. The ruling held that Richey's defense counsel at the original trial had been ineffective, and ordered that Richey be re-tried within 90 days or released. Two weeks later, the Ohio Attorney General's office announced that the prosecution would be seeking a retrial. Richey was taken off death row and returned to the custody of Putnam County Jail, the place of his original trial.

During his 20-year incarceration, doubts arose about the entirely circumstantial evidence that convicted Richey, particularly the forensic evidence, which led to a growing campaign for a re-examination of the evidence. Described by Amnesty International as 'one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners have ever seen', [] Richey's case became something of a cause célèbre in the United Kingdom.

However, since his release Richey has been accused of various crimes and is currently in an Edinburgh jail awaiting trial for an armed assault on an elderly man.

Arson or accident?

Around 4:15 a.m., on June 30, 1986, at the Old Farm Village Apartment complex in Columbus Grove, Ohio, a fire broke out in the second-floor apartment home of Hope Collins and her two-year-old daughter Cynthia Collins. As a result of the fire, Cynthia died from asphyxia related to smoke inhalation. Hope was not present at the time of the fire as she had left to spend the night with a boyfriend following a party held with neighbors from adjacent second-floor apartments at the apartment complex. When the party was concluding, she invited Kenny Richey to sleep in her apartment in return for minding her sleeping daughter.

The Fire Chief initially blamed the fire on an electric fan, and the burnt remains of the interior of the apartment were removed. The Fire Chief then asked the Assistant State Fire Marshal Robert Cryer to investigate further. After investigating the scene, Cryer told the prosecutor’s office that he believed that the fire had resulted from arson, a conclusion that eventually led to Kenny Richey being convicted and sentenced to death on charges of aggravated murder with a specification alleging murder in the course of arson, aggravated arson, breaking and entering (a greenhouse where he is alleged to have acquired the materials to start the fire), and child endangering.

As result of her actions on that night, Hope Collins pled guilty to the amended charge of involuntary manslaughter, and served a total of 45 days in prison.

The prosecution case

The prosecution alleged that Richey was angry with his ex-girlfriend, Candy Barchet, and her new boyfriend, so he allegedly set fire to the apartment above theirs, hoping the fire would burn through the concrete floor and injure them while they slept. To do this, he stole gasoline and paint thinner from a nearby greenhouse, which he brought to the scene of the crime by climbing onto the roof of a utility shed below Hope’s living room balcony. Once inside, he splashed gas and paint thinner throughout the living room and set it alight before escaping back over the balcony with the empty cans.

Among a variety of other witnesses to the events of the party at section “A” Old Farm Village Apartments, witness evidence was given by the testimony of Hope Collins, Peggy Price (who lived in the adjacent apartment) and Candy Barchet (Richey's ex-girlfriend). Candy and her infant son moved into their apartment around June 15, and she met Richey. Within a few days, Candy and Richey formed a sexual relationship. On June 24, Richey learned that Candy had just been in bed with John Butler, and Richey pulled a knife on Butler. In response, Butler "bounced him around the room a little bit." Just after that fracas, Richey broke his hand by punching a door, requiring a splint.

On Sunday evening, June 29, Candy took her new boyfriend, Mike Nichols, to a party in Peggy's apartment; during the party, Candy kissed Nichols openly and told Richey that she wanted to date Nichols. Testimony at the trial indicated that Richey became upset at this news, according to other accounts the three discussed and Kenny accepted the fact. When Candy went home, around 1:00 a.m., she asked Nichols to spend the night with her, which he did.

That night, Richey wore his Marine Corps camouflage fatigues and combat boots, and he still had his right hand bandaged in a splint. Jeffrey Kezar testified he heard Richey saying, "If I can't have her (Candy), nobody else can." Other testimony reveals that Richey had told persons that "A" Building would burn that night and he would use his Marine training to do that. Robert Dannenberger described Richey as "very upset" and said Richey threatened to blow the place up since he had "learned how to do explosives" in the Marines. Peggy Price became upset, and Richey told her, "Well, instead of blowing it up, I'll torch A Section." Price recalled that Richey said, "Before the night is over, part of A Building is going to burn down." Shirley Baker also recalls Richey saying, "A Building was going to burn * * *." Juanita Altimus, while just outside her own apartment, overheard Richey say on the landing, "Building A was going to burn tonight."

By 2:00 a.m., the party was breaking up, and Richey kept asking Hope if he could spend the night on her sofa. Hope refused. Around 2:20 a.m., June 30, Richey offered to steal some flowers for Peggy from a greenhouse across the street, but Peggy told Richey not to bring them to her.

Between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m., Dennis Smith drove up and asked Hope to go with him. Hope replied she did not have a baby-sitter, but Richey said, "Well, I'll keep an eye on her (Cynthia), if you let me sleep on your couch." A neighbour also overheard Hope say to Richey, "Go upstairs with Scootie (Cynthia's nickname) -- she's asleep -- but don't lock the door because I can't get back in because I don't have a key."

Around 4:15 a.m., neighbours reported bright orange flames and smoke coming out of the Collins apartment, and the fire department responded. Firemen saw several feet of flames from the apartment and deck curl up over the roof. A resident and a fireman both started into the apartment, but the heat and fire were too intense. A fireman then went back in, with oxygen, but he could not find Cynthia and soon ran out of oxygen.

Ultimately, several firemen, with fire hoses and oxygen masks, succeeded in removing Cynthia's body from her burning bedroom. Cynthia died from asphyxia related to smoke inhalation.When the firemen arrived, Richey was either at the Collins apartment or he arrived shortly thereafter; he was screaming that a child was still inside. One fireman saw him coming out of the apartment, helped him up, and had to restrain him to keep him from going back in. Richey was combative, argumentative, and interfered with efforts to fight the fire and rescue Cynthia. Two deputy sheriffs overpowered Richey and turned him over to Police Chief Thomas Miller to keep him out of the way.

During the fire, Richey asked Nichols, "Why don't we finish it now, since you think you're so bad?" Richey also asked Candy if the fire had scared her. When she replied it had, Richey told her, "if he couldn't have me, that nobody would * * *." Altimus reported that Richey, as he looked over the fire damage, drank a beer, laughed, and said, "It looks like I did a helluva good job, don't it."Richey admitted that he had earlier gotten two plants from the K & J Greenhouse for Candy, and police found those plants outside Candy's apartment. The K & J owner identified them as having been stolen from his greenhouse. Richey had also offered to steal two plants for Peggy that evening. The K & J owner confirmed that paint thinner and gasoline were kept in two unlocked storage sheds. Gasoline and paint thinner could have been stolen from these sheds; the owner did not know if any was missing.

As part of its investigation, the State eventually retrieved six samples of debris remaining from the fire. Several of those samples came from the carpet that had first found its way into the garbage dump. On the afternoon of July 1, nearly two days after the fire broke out, the Deputy Sheriff retrieved the carpet from the dump. One piece of carpet was recovered from atop the garbage pile, and another was partially covered by trash. Once removed, the carpet was placed in the sheriff’s parking lot. The carpet stayed in the parking lot - located no more than forty feet away from gasoline pumps - for three weeks, before it was finally taken to the State Arson Lab for testing. Similarly, a wood chip sample was not removed from Collins’s apartment for testing until July 17, nearly three weeks after the fire. With regard to the possibility of contamination, the prosecution pointed out that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that the possibility of contamination goes to the weight of the evidence, not its admissibility.

At the original trial, the judges accepted that "other evidence established that the arsonist had used accelerants, including dominant pour patterns to the burning on the wood deck and living room concrete. An accelerant was also found in wood chips from the deck floor. Thus, even if the rug had been wrongfully admitted, other evidence of arson rendered any error harmless.”Cryer concluded from the physical evidence and burn patterns that an accelerant had been used. An accelerant had been poured on the apartment's wooden deck, the fire's point of origin, as well as the living room rug. A smoke detector had been pulled from the ceiling before the fire. The fire was a very fast, hot, intense fire because of the accelerant.Gregory DuBois, a consulting engineer, agreed that the fire had been caused by arson and that accelerants had been used. One rug sample from the Collins apartment contained gasoline, and another rug sample revealed paint thinner. Wood chips from that apartment's deck also contained paint thinner.

These samples were analysed by the State Arson Lab using gas chromatograms, which one of the State’s forensic chemists, Dan Gelfius, described at trial as "scientific instrumentation that allows the differential migration of the components of hydrocarbons to separate and to give . . . a pattern similar to the identification of fingerprints." Gelfius testified that both a sample of carpet from Collins’s living room and a sample of wood from her balcony contained paint thinner, and that another sample of the living room carpet contained gasoline.

Chief Miller interviewed Richey as a witness on the morning of June 30 and also obtained his statement in the afternoon after advising him of his rights. By July 1, the investigation had focused on Richey, and police arrested Richey for arson and took further statements after advising him of his rights. Police tape-recorded an interview of Richey on July 1. (Fire Marshal Cryer and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randy Basinger participated in that interview.)

In these statements, Richey maintained that he had been drunk on June 30 and did not remember much. However, he denied starting the fire or knowing how it started. He also denied that Hope had asked him to baby-sit Cynthia, and claimed that he had been at his father's apartment when the fire began. Richey did admit that he knew Cynthia was in Hope's apartment; he had stopped and looked in on her while she was sleeping during the party. Richey also claimed that he had secret ways with witnesses so they would not testify against him. In a later statement, he said he would cut the prosecutor's throat.

Richey told Deputy Roy Sargent on November 19 that "Randy Basinger (the prosecutor) was a dead man "and that "whoever testified against him had better hope he's six feet under." On August 17, Richey told Deputy Mike Ball to take a message to Randy Basinger, "that when he got out he was going to cut his throat."

While in pretrial custody, Richey wrote to a friend in Scotland that police in the United States did not scare him. The letter was quoted in the pre-sentence investigation as follows:"If one ever pulls a gun on me he'd better shoot to kill. * * * Remember that day when I shot Gog's in the head with your gun, I laughed so hard I almost ripped my sides! (If the police in Scotland) ever found out about 1/2 the stuff we done they'd bring back the death penalty just for us! * * * If they just give me prison time they better hope to hell I die in there, cause when I get out I won't stop hunting them all down until everyone who is involved in this case is dead!"

Also, several mental health professionals concluded that Richey suffered from borderline and antisocial personality disorders. Richey's counsel at the original trial reasoned that this evidence was strongly mitigating and that the trial court and court of appeals erred by imposing a death sentence.

According to Dr. Leena Puhakka, a psychologist, Richey displayed classic symptoms of those personality disorders. Dr. Puhakka found Richey functioned at the emotional level of a ten- or eleven-year-old. Dr. Antoine Demosthene, a psychiatrist, found no evidence of psychosis or mental disease, although Richey was very socially maladjusted, and suffered antisocial personality disorder.

Dr. William McIntosh, a psychologist, testified that Richey frequently lied to manipulate the results of mental evaluations. He stated that Richey had come from a chaotic family background, had an early history of violence and drug abuse, and displayed erratic behaviour and poor impulse control. Although not psychotic, Richey did have mental disorders, according to Dr. McIntosh.

Dr. Thomas Sherman, a board-certified psychiatrist testifying by deposition for the state, found Richey "extremely impulsive, self-centred, and hedonistic." He stated that Richey did not display any psychosis or inability to understand the criminality of his acts or to refrain from those acts.

Evidence by psychiatrists and psychologists also revealed Richey's preoccupation with death, blood, and violence, and his acts of self-mutilation and attempts at suicide resulting in over six hundred self-imposed scars and cuts on his body. Richey received his first mental health evaluation in January 1978, when thirteen years old, and was briefly treated and evaluated for erratic behaviour in various mental institutions.

Social worker Judith Tolliver described Richey as a blustering young man who suffered from a "histrionic behaviour disorder" in addition to his other personality disorders. She found Richey not delusional, mentally impaired or actively psychotic but severely and chronically maladjusted.

The defense case

The central premise of Richey's appeals was that no arson took place, and therefore no crime. Richey's counsel argue that the death of Cynthia Collins was instead a tragic accident. According to this view, dubious and conflicting circumstantial evidence combined with widely discredited forensic evidence resulted in an unsafe conviction.

Richey steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration. Before his trial, he declined a plea bargain involving pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in return for a lesser sentence of eleven years and four months. Had he accepted, he would have been released by the year 2000. In the late 1990s he also rejected an offer of transfer to a Scottish jail and eventual release under Scottish probation law [] . Meanwhile, concern surrounding the evidence and the perceived incompetence of Richey's counsel during the original trial have led to an international campaign to secure his exoneration and release.

One of the central issues of concern to believers in Richey’s innocence is the prosecution’s controversial interpretation of forensic evidence, particularly chromatograms, and the incompetence of the expert witnesses for both sides. Prosecution witness Mr. Dan Gelfius used a chromatogram analysis technique that had never been reviewed by any of his peers to conclude that carpet samples from Collins' living room contained gasoline and wood samples from the balcony contained paint thinner – allegedly the accelerants used by Richey. In a later commentary on Mr. Gelfius’ testimony submitted as an affidavit at the appeal stage, Mr. Tony Cafe, an Australian international authority on forensic laboratory analysis of fire debris, stated: “I am sure that most of the world's leading forensic scientists in this field would be horrified if they saw the chromatograms used to convict Kenny Richey. If Kenny Richey were executed on the basis of this scientific evidence, then these chromatograms will become historical documents, examined by scientists all over the world to show just how wrong forensic evidence can be. It would be a great tragedy for the future of forensic science.” []

Unfortunately for Richey, the defense counsel at his original trial used a newspaper advertisement to hire Mr. Gregory DuBois, a metallurgist specializing in metal fatigue, as its expert witness. Mr. DuBois, who had undergone only four days training in arson investigation, was ordered to limit his investigation to ten hours to save costs. Without carrying out any tests of his own, DuBois’ conclusions mirrored those of the prosecution to such an extent that during the trial he was called to give evidence for the prosecution, an event that defense counsel William Kluge failed to prevent. During Richey's appeals, Richard Custer, a specialist in fire reconstruction testified that the burn pattern at the apartment could have resulted from a fire that occurred naturally and that Mr. Gelfius' "theory of the accelerant's pour pattern and location would have required the use of 10 gallons of fuel." []

Since the original trial, conflicting and inconclusive witness evidence has been further undermined by recantations such as that submitted in an affidavit on appeal by Ms. Peggy Villearreal, who lived next door to Hope Collins, in which she reversed her trial testimony that she had heard Richey threaten to burn down the apartment building, and recalled how Cynthia Collins played with matches and lighters, once placed a lit cigarette between sofa cushions, and had twice set fire to her bed. []

Richey’s campaigners also assert the following points of fact:

* There were no traces of flammable materials found on Kenny's trousers or boots despite the assertion he had splashed such materials over the carpet.

* The defense was not told that the local fire chief had been called to the flat on three separate occasions in the preceding weeks to investigate the mysterious appearance of smoke in the flat.

* Kenny had broken his hand a week earlier and it was in a plaster cast. A witness also saw him collapse in bushes drunk. It is highly questionable that he would have been able to climb onto a shed to gain access to the apartment holding petrol cans without making any noise. His-ex girlfriend and her new boyfriend claimed to be light sleepers but heard nothing.

* Fire Marshall Cryer who investigated the fire declared that the fire had started accidentally and authorized the building owner to gut the flat. Had he suspected arson, the flat would have had to be sealed off for investigation. Instead, vital evidence was removed first to the dump and then to the local sheriff's forecourt and placed near a petrol pump.

An investigation by a local newspaper the Toledo Blade in 1998 pointed to the following "crucial errors" in the trial proceedings:

* In writing the three-judge panel's opinion on why Richey deserved the death penalty, Judge Michael J. Corrigan, the presiding judge, cited "unrefuted evidence" that Richey disconnected a fire alarm in the apartment. In fact, no evidence linking Richey to the fire alarm had been raised; only the fact that the alarm was disconnected. Judge Corrigan inferred two things – that Richey did the disconnecting, and that he did it to prevent the fire being discovered - from a neutral fact that the alarm was disconnected.

* Richey's attorney, public defender William Kluge, has admitted to making mistakes. The petition by his new attorney, Ken Parsigian, makes a compelling case that there were numerous errors in Richey's defense.

* Attorney Kluge's most obvious mistake was not asking Peggy Price Villearreal, a neighbor of Richey, how the fire alarm had been disconnected. She now says she and other residents of the apartment complex regularly disconnected the alarms in their own apartments.

This evidence would undermine Judge Corrigan's crucial conclusion regarding Richey's responsibility for disconnecting the fire alarm". []

Internationally, Richey's case attracted appeals on his behalf from Scottish celebrities such as Irvine Welsh, Robbie Coltrane, Charlie and Craig Reid, members of the Scottish Parliament, Pope John Paul II, former British Home Secretary Jack Straw (who promised to intervene on his behalf), former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, actress Susan Sarandon, and organizations such as the European Parliament and Amnesty International.

Trial and appeals

A grand jury indicted Richey for aggravated murder with a specification alleging murder in the course of arson, aggravated arson, breaking and entering (the greenhouse where he is alleged to have obtained gasoline and paint thinner to start the fire), involuntary manslaughter, and child endangering. A panel of three judges, sitting without a jury, convicted Richey of all charges, save the manslaughter charge, which was dropped. Following a pre-sentence investigation, mental evaluation, and mitigation hearing, the panel sentenced Richey to death for aggravated murder and consecutive prison terms for the other offenses.

In 1992 a direct appeal was lodged with Ohio Supreme Court and denied by four votes to three.

In March 1997 an appeal lodged with the same judge who sentenced Richey to death was rejected. A 1998 appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court was also denied.

Throughout the appeals process efforts by Richey's counsel to secure a re-examination of the forensic evidence that convicted him were resisted by the prosecution. At one stage prosecutor Dan Gershutz commented: "Even though this new evidence may establish Mr. Richey's innocence, the Ohio and United States Constitutions nonetheless allow him to be executed because the prosecution did not know that the scientific testimony offered at trial was false and unreliable." []

In June 1998 a stay was granted for the last in a series of 13 scheduled execution dates, and the case was transferred to the federal courts.

During this stage of appeal, on January 25 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned his conviction and sentence, ruling firstly that Richey's original legal counsel had been incompetent and secondly questioning the application of the principle of 'transferred intent'.

Subsequently, on November 28, 2005, the United States Supreme Court partially reversed the appellate court's decision following an appeal by the prosecution upholding the prosecution view that the Sixth Circuit ignored a constitutionally valid state law and thus overstepped its authority.

In upholding the prosecution's argument on the legal principle of transferred intent, the Supreme Court stated that the “explanation of Ohio law was perfectly clear and unambiguous. We have repeatedly held that a state court’s interpretation of state law … binds a federal court sitting in habeas corpus”.

It remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit for reconsideration in light of the new instructions. On 5 September 2006, Sixth Court scheduled oral argument on the remanded issue of ineffective counsel for January 24, 2007. Under this procedure, the Sixth Circuit panel of three judges heard arguments for one half hour each by both the Ohio Attorney General and Richey's defense counsel, Mr. Ken Parsigian.

On 10th August 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld its January 2005 overturning of Richey's conviction and death sentence due to ineffective counsel and once again ordered Kenny Richey to be re-tried within 90 days or released.

On 24th August 2007, Brian Laliberte, Ohio deputy first assistant attorney general announced that the prosecution had decided not to appeal the Court of Appeals' ruling to the Supreme Court, and therefore accepted a retrial. Richey was moved off death row and back to the Custody of Putnam County Jail.

Richey's second trial was scheduled to commence at Putnam County Common Pleas Court on March 28, 2008.

At a bail hearing in Putnam County on 2 October 2007, a bail bond of $10 million was issued in order for Richey to be released, under strict limitations, until his new trial is held. Despite an anonymous donation of $900,000 and his father and brother's willingness to sell their homes to raise bail, Richey's counsel accepted that because any bail bond is non-refundable, they would not be able to secure his release until the new trial is held.

Richey's counsel originally applied for a change of venue to Columbus instead of Putnam County. In support of their argument that media attention would make a fair trial impossible, Richey's counsel presented 426 newspaper articles, letters to the editor or editorials about the case since it began. Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers resisted this application, arguing that to do so would be premature and that the proper way to handle the matter is to try first to seat a jury to determine whether the jury pool has been tainted [] .

On 26 October 2007 Richey's counsel requested that the prosecution provide an account of what they intend to prove at trial, and applied for funds to hire an investigator and a mitigation expert, to be used only if Richey was re-convicted on death penalty charges and his case proceeded to the penalty phase [] .

In response to the Defense counsel's requests, the prosecution filed with the court a list of evidence that they intended to use at the trial. Prosecution witnesses would have included Cynthia Collins' mother, members of the emergency services who attended at the scene, and former neighbors and friends of Richey. Statements from the five witnesses who died since 1986 were to be read to the jury. Richey's clothing from the time and items from his days in the US Marine Corps were to be submitted as evidence, together with Cynthia Collins' medical records and death certificate. []

Plea bargain

On 19 December, 2007 it was announced that Richey had agreed a plea bargain and would be freed. Richey pleaded 'no contest' to involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering. The charges of arson and murder were dropped, and Richey was released after being sentenced to time served. Part of the agreement was that Richey leave the U.S. immediately. [ [ BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Death row Scot set to be released ] ]

Reaction to Richey's acceptance of the plea bargain was mixed. Richey's counsel, Mr. Ken Parsigian, had from the outset been extremely confident that his client would be exonerated at the retrial, stating that the prosecution had a "snowball's chance in hell" of securing a conviction a second time around, and that the prosecution case "is 10 times weaker that it was 19 years ago and it wasn't that strong a case then" [] . However, when the plea bargain was announced, he described it as "complete victory and more than Kenny and I could ever wish for... the State wanted him to plead guilty and he would not do that. They have agreed to drop murder, to drop the arson and took the most basic minor face-saving deal of no contest. There was nothing left for them to fight about" [] .

One of the effects of accepting the plea bargain is that Richey is ineligible for a theoretical $1 million compensation payout for his 20-year incarceration. Under Ohio law, a wrongfully convicted person can receive $40,330 per year of wrongful incarceration (or an amount determined by the state auditor), in addition to lost wages, costs and lawyers' fees, as long as the claimant did not plead guilty. However, according to Richey's defence lawyer, Mr. Ken Parsigian, any such compensation would in effect be almost impossible to obtain: "There is a statute that allows a wrongfully convicted person to sue the state and collect, but the standard is very, very high, and the amount you can recover is limited. It is not enough to show that the government's case was wrong we would have to prove that he was innocent, and that the prosecutors knew or should have known that" []

Karen Torley, the organizer of the 'Kenny Richey Campaign', urged his supporters not to feel let down by the bargain: "What Kenny always said was that he would never plead to starting the fire or trying to kill anyone. And he hasn't. The State has caved in and dropped those claims because it can't prove them. What he is pleading "no contest" to is failure to baby-sit and stealing a plant. After 21 years in prison for an unconstitutional conviction on charges the State has now dropped, what sense did it make to spend six more months in prison to fight about a failure to baby sit and stealing a plant?" [] .

An editorial in the Ohio newspaper the Toledo Blade lamented that the full details of the procedure that led to his conviction would not now come to light: "News that Kenneth Richey plans to cop a no-contest plea to lesser crimes in the 1986 fire death of a 2-year-old Putnam County girl is a keen disappointment to those of us who expected the 43-year-old Scotsman would finally get full and fair disposition of the charges against him. Moreover, the plea bargain in this internationally watched case won't satisfy critics abroad who claim, with ample justification, that Richey was a victim of a rush to justice in a small U.S. town. What the deal does do, however, is remind us that American law does not require that criminal suspects prove themselves innocent. The prosecution must prove guilt, and the case against Richey collapsed under the weight of some very shaky evidence" [] .

Personal life

Kenny Richey’s brother, Tom Richey, who is serving a prison sentence for murder, authored a book about the case entitled "Kenny Richey Death Row Scot: My Brother Kenny’s Fight for Justice" []

Richey had married while serving in the US Marine Corps. His marriage to Wendy Amerud ended in divorce two months before the alleged crime, and Richey had no further contact with either his wife or son Sean until his sentence was overturned in January 2005. While on death row Richey became engaged to a Scottish woman, Karen Torley, who had written to him after seeing a documentary on this plight. She also became the organizer of the 'Kenny Richey Campaign', which campaigned for his exoneration and release. Their engagement ended in March 2006, as following the overturning of his conviction, Richey re-established his relationship with his ex-wife and son. Ms. Torley temporarily resigned as head of the Kenny Richey Campaign in June 2006, but maintained close contact with Richey and continued to campaign for his exoneration. [citeweb|url=||publisher=Karen Torley|accessdate=2008-01-07]

Richey was granted British citizenship in 2003, becoming the first to benefit from a change in British nationality law that was instigated by his attorneys [] .

In August 2006 Richey, who is also a diabetic, suffered another of a series of heart attacks in his prison cell. He was airlifted to hospital and underwent surgery, but made a recovery.

His time in America has slightly altered his accent.

2008 Assault Charges

On August 9th 2008 the Edinburgh Evening News reported that Richey was once again back in prison after only 7 months of freedom, this time on Remand in Edinburgh's Saughton Prison, having been charged with assault to serious injury against a 63-year old man. According to the victim, Richey attacked him with a club while wearing a mask because the victim owed him money.It was further reported by the Edinburgh Evening News on 15th August that Richey had been fully committed to custody, having been refused Bail by Edinburgh Sheriff Court.Richey then vowed to appeal this refusal of bail to the High Court. A High Court hearing was duly held, in which High Court judge Lord Kinclaven again refused to grant bail to Richey,ruling instead that he must stay in jail until his trial later this year.


* "State v. Richey", Case No. 12-87-2, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third Appellate District, Putnam County, 1989 Ohio App. LEXIS 4914, December 28, 1989
* "State v. Richey," 64 Ohio St. 3d 353, 1992 Ohio 44, 595 N.E.2d 915, 1992 Ohio LEXIS 1723 (1992)
* "State v. Richey", Case No. 12-97-7, Court Of Appeals Of Ohio, Third Appellate District, Putnam County, 1997 Ohio App. LEXIS 5284, November 18, 1997
* "State v. Richey", 2000 Ohio 1843, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 2245 (Ohio Ct. App., Putnam County May 26, 2000)
* "Richey v. Mitchell", 395 F.3d 660, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 1218, 2005 FED App. 39P (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Ohio 2005)
* "Bradshaw v. Richey", 126 S. Ct. 602, 163 L. Ed. 2d 407, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 9033, 74 U.S.L.W. 3320, 19 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 7 (U.S. 2005)
* [ Affidavit of forensic scientist Tony Cafe]
* [ Karen Torley's website]
*American Justice, Playing With Fire (episode)


ee also

*Krishna Maharaj, another British national fighting a murder conviction in the United States.

External links

* [ Richey at Amnesty UK]
* [ Ohio]
* [ Two Views of a Fatal Fire] from The Malefactor's Register
* [ Letters From Death Row]

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