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KENNY RICHEY
Death row conviction overturned

Kenny Richey has been on death row for more than 20 years
Kenny Richey Video
Death row Scot Kenny Richey has had his conviction overturned on appeal for the second time by a US court.

Richey, 43, was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago after being convicted of deliberately starting a fire in Ohio in which a two-year-old girl died.

The grounds of appeal were that Richey, originally from Edinburgh, received inadequate legal representation during his trial in 1987.

The court ordered that Richey should be retried or released within 90 days.

Deputy Solicitor General at the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Den Mizer, told BBC Scotland that they would take time to assess their options.

He said that no decisions had yet been made on what is "a difficult and complicated case".

On the question of whether they would approve a retrial of Richey, he said any decision on that issue would be taken after consulting with local prosecutors.

The latest appeal was decided by the United States Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit, the second highest court that can hear the case.
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  • No Arson, No Murder, No Justice!
    In 1981, at the age of eighteen, Kenny Richey left his home in Scotland to live with his American Father in Ohio State.

    In June 1986, one week before his return to the United Kingdom, Kenny was arrested for a crime the evidence shows was not a crime at all.

    Since his conviction some months later, he has been sitting on death row, waiting to be strapped into "Old Sparky" Ohio's electric chair.

    The State remains keen to execute him.

    Denied Right to prove innocence
    During the months preceding 21 March 1997, evidence was presented to the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, conclusively establishing the innocence of Kenny Richey.

    This compelling evidence was submitted to support a bid for a hearing to allow Kenny's defence team to show that the case was a tragic miscarriage of justice.

    The state prosecution did not dispute the accuracy of the new evidence.

    Prosecution Dan Gershutz said, "Even though this new evidence may establish Mr Richey's innocence, the Ohio and United States constitution nonetheless allow him to be executed because the prosecution did not know that the scientific testimony offered at the trial was false and unreliable."

    Without setting any reasons, Judge Michael Corrigan agreed, (Judge Corrigan was the foreman of a panel of three judges who convicted Kenny then sentenced him to die by electrocution). He refused the defences request for an evidentiary hearing and dismissed Kenny's appeal. Thus Kenny was denied the right to prove his innocence of the crime for which was convicted.

    The Reversal
    Read the full decision (warning 7 MB download)

    In January 2005 the case was reversed by the 6th Circuit. They also turned down a bid for rehearing from the Attorney Generals office. In late may the clock started ticking,  Ohio had 90 days to set up a retrial, else Kenny would be free...

    Petro, unwilling to accept the retrial, appealed to the US Supreme Court. Most of us, the absolute majority, felt it truly unlikely they would even hear the appeal. While waiting the clock stopped ticking, and yet another delay was introduced in this case of two decades.

    Unpleasant surprise from the USSC

    Surprisingly the US Supreme Court not only accepted to hear the appeal but threw out the 6th Circuit decision. They did so mainly cause of the transferral of intent part, but sent back the other half of the decision for further review by the 6th Circuit. Basically the part of ineffective counsel, while not fully accepted by the USSC was remanded back to the 6th.

    See the Supreme Court Opinion

    The future
    The case is still very much alive. Parsigian, Kenny's attorney have vowed to fight on, and very likely the next stop is the 6th Circuit court of appeals  yet again. It is early to make any definite predictions, but at least this is the court that took a fresh look on the case in the first place.

    Here is the latest appeal to the 6th Circuit

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    UPDATES & NEWS LINKS
    Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, in violation of the Universal declaration of Human Rights. The organization has recorded 72 executions in Iran so far this year, although the true figure may be much higher.

    Official Kenny Richey Homepage

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    All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff
    All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff