Kenny Richey

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Kenneth "Kenny" Thomas Richey[1] (born August 3, 1964 in Zeist) is a British-US dual citizen, born to a Scottish mother and American father, who was raised in Scotland 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 January 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 Scotland on January 9, 2008.[2]

Richey's plea bargain involved pleading 'no contest' to manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering. He was 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, neither disputes or admits to the charges. In real terms, this means that the accused admits there is enough evidence to convict without admitting to guilt.

During his 20-year incarceration, doubts arose about the entirely circumstantial evidence that led to conviction, particularly the forensic evidence. This led to a campaign to re-examine the evidence. Described by Amnesty International as, "…one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human rights campaigners have ever seen,"[3] Richey's case became something of a cause célèbre in the United Kingdom.


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 Collins died from asphyxia related to smoke inhalation. Hope Collins was not there at the time, as she had left to spend the night with a boyfriend after a party with neighbors from adjacent second-floor apartments at the 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 was 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 allegedly acquired the materials to start the fire), and child endangerment.

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.

Prosecution case

The prosecution alleged that Richey was angry with his ex-girlfriend, Candy Barchet and her new boyfriend, so he 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 petroleum 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 Collins' living room balcony. Once inside, he splashed petrol and paint thinner throughout the living room and set it alight before escaping over the balcony with the empty cans.

A number of witnesses to the events of the party at section "A" Old Farm Village Apartments gave evidence. In particular, testimony was given by Hope Collins, Peggy Price (an adjacent neighbor of Richey's, now known as Peggy Price Villearreal) and Candy Barchet (Richey's ex-girlfriend). Barchet and her infant son moved into their apartment around 15 June, and she met Richey. Within a few days, Barchet and Richey formed a sexual relationship. On June 24, Richey learned that Barchet 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 30, Barchet took her new boyfriend, Mike Nichols, to a party in Price's apartment. During the party, Barchet 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 the issue and Richey accepted it. When Barchet 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. He still had his right hand bandaged in a splint. Jeffrey Kezar testified that he heard Richey saying, "If I can't have her (Barchet), nobody else can." Other testimony revealed that Richey told people 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. 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 Collins if he could spend the night on her sofa. Hope Collins refused. Around 2:20 a.m., June 30, Richey offered to steal some flowers for Price from a greenhouse across the street, but Price told Richey not to bring them to her.

Between 3:00 and 3:30 AM., Dennis Smith drove up and asked Hope Collins to go with him. Hope Collins replied she did not have a baby-sitter, but Richey said, "Well, I'll keep an eye on her (Cynthia Collins), if you let me sleep on your couch." A neighbour also overheard Hope Collins say to Richey, "Go upstairs with Scootie (Cynthia Collins) — 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. When the firemen arrived, they saw several feet of flames from the apartment and deck curl up over the roof. Richey was either already at the Collins apartment or he arrived shortly after; 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 Collins. Two deputy sheriffs overpowered Richey and turned him over to Police Chief Thomas Miller to keep him out of the way.

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 Collins and soon ran out of oxygen. Ultimately, several firemen, with fire hoses and oxygen masks, succeeded in removing Cynthia Collins' body from her burning bedroom. Cynthia Collins died from asphyxia related to smoke inhalation.

During the fire, Richey asked Nichols, "Why don't we finish it now, since you think you're so bad?" Richey also asked Barchet 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 obtained two plants from the K & J Greenhouse for Barchet, and police found those plants outside Barchet's apartment. The K & J owner identified them as having been stolen from his greenhouse. Richey had also offered to steal two plants for Price that evening. The K & J owner confirmed that he kept paint thinner and gasoline in two unlocked storage sheds. Gasoline and paint thinner could have been stolen from these sheds, but the owner did not know if any was missing.

As part of its investigation, the State eventually retrieved six samples of debris from the fire. 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 — which was no more than forty feet 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' 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 in 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. It was a fast, hot, intense fire because of the accelerant. Lawrence 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' 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 focused on Richey. Police arrested him for arson, advised him of his rights, and took further statements. 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 Collins had asked him to babysit Cynthia Collins, and claimed he was at his father's apartment when the fire began. Richey did admit that he knew Cynthia Collins was in Hope Collins' apartment; he had 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 [Richey] 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!"

A psychologist testified that Richey suffers from borderline and antisocial personality disorders.[4] 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 from antisocial personality disorder.

Dr. William McIntosh, a psychologist, testified that Richey frequently lied to manipulate the results of mental evaluations. He stated that Richey came 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 suffers from "…histrionic behavior disorder,"[4] in addition to his other personality disorders. She found Richey not delusional, mentally impaired, or actively psychotic but severely and chronically maladjusted.

Defense case

The central premise of Richey's appeals was that no arson took place, and therefore no crime. Richey's counsel argued 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 2000. In the late 1990s he also rejected an offer of transfer to a Scottish jail and eventual release under Scottish probation law.[5] Meanwhile, concern surrounding the evidence and the perceived incompetence of Richey's counsel during the original trial led to an international campaign to secure his exoneration and release. A central issue for believers in Richey's innocence was the prosecution's controversial interpretation of forensic evidence, particularly chromatograms—and expert witness incompetence on 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 that 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."[6]

Unfortunately for Richey, the defense counsel at his original trial followed a recommendation from a local state fire marshall investigator to hire Mr. Lawrence DuBois, an independent fire investigator, as its expert witness. Mr. DuBois, was ordered to limit his investigation to ten hours to save costs. Unable to carry out tests of his own, DuBois' conclusions mirrored the prosecution's to such an extent that during the trial he was called to give evidence for the prosecution, which 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 10 gallons of fuel.[7]

Following the original trial, conflicting and inconclusive witness evidence was further undermined by recantations. Price submitted an affidavit in which she reversed her trial testimony that she 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.[7]

Richey's campaigners also asserted the following points:

  • No traces of flammable materials were 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 mysterious appearances of smoke.
  • Kenny had broken his hand a week earlier and it was in a plaster cast. A witness saw him collapse in bushes drunk—raising doubt that he could 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 for investigation. Instead, vital evidence was removed—first to the dump, and then to the local sheriff's forecourt where it was placed near a petrol pump.

A local newspaper, the Toledo Blade, investigated in 1998, and pointed to "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's discovery—from the neutral fact that the alarm was disconnected.
  • Richey's attorney, public defender William Kluge, admitted to 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 Richey's neighbor Price 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".[8]

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 endangerment. A panel of three judges, 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, the prosecution resisted efforts by Richey's counsel to re-examine the forensic evidence that convicted him. 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." [9]

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 25 January 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 Supreme Court of United States 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."

In light of the new instructions, it remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit for reconsideration. On September 5, 2006, the Sixth Court scheduled oral arguments 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 the Ohio Attorney General and Richey's defense counsel, Mr. Ken Parsigian.

On August 10, 2007, the 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 re-tried or released within 90 days.

On August 24, 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 October 2, 2007, the court set bail of $10 million for Richey to be released, under strict limitations, until his new trial. 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 was held.

Richey's counsel originally applied for a change of venue to Columbus instead of Putnam County. Arguing that media attention made a fair trial impossible, Richey's counsel presented 426 newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and editorials about the case. Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers resisted this application, arguing that it was 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.[10]

On October 26, 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.[11] In response, the prosecution filed 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 at the scene, and former neighbors and friends of Richey. Statements from five witnesses who had 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.[12]

Plea bargain

On December 19, 2007 it was announced that Richey had accepted a plea bargain and would be freed. Richey pleaded 'no contest' to attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering. The arson and murder charges were dropped, and Richey was released after being sentenced to time served. The agreement stipulated that Richey leave the U.S. immediately.[13]

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."[14] 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."[15]

One effect 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, Ken Parsigian, any such compensation would 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."[16]

Karen Torley, 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?."[17]

An editorial in the Ohio newspaper the Toledo Blade lamented that 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."[18]

Subsequent criminal charges

Richey has been arrested several times since he returned to the UK. Most seriously, he was charged with assaulting and robbing 63-year-old Robert McCall at his Edinburgh apartment on July 11, 2008, and another assault six days later. He faced trial in March 2009.[19] However, the judge presiding over the case dismissed the charges explaining that he felt Richey "…had suffered enough."[20] At one point, he was charged with stealing a woman's purse. The charge was later dropped.[21][22] More recently, he was arrested for assaulting his son with a baseball bat in Minnesota.[1]

2012 Imprisonment

In April 2012 Richey agreed to plead guilty to a retaliation charge in exchange for prosecutors dropping a charge that he broke a protection order when he called the Putnam County courthouse in Ottawa on December 31, 2011.[23] He was living in Mississippi when he called and left a threatening message for Judge Randall Basinger. Judge Basinger was a prosecutor in his 1987 trial.[24] Richey later claimed he was drunk and only joking.

He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in May 2012.[25]

Personal life

Kenny Richey's brother, Tom Richey, who is serving a prison sentence for murder, wrote a book about the case entitled "Kenny Richey Death Row Scot: My Brother Kenny's Fight for Justice".[26]

Richey married Wendy Amerud while serving in the US Marine Corps. His marriage 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 his 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.[27]

Richey was granted British citizenship in 2003, becoming the first to benefit from a change in British nationality law regarding the status of children of British mothers and non-British fathers born outside the United Kingdom.[28]

In August 2006, Richey, who is also 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. In 2008, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.[29]

See also

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


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  • 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)
  • Richey v. Mitchell, 395 F.3d 660, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 1218, 2005 FED App. 39P (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Ohio 2005)
  • State v. Richey, Case No. 12-87-2, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Third Appellate District, Putnam County, 1989 Ohio App. LEXIS 4914, 28 December 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, 18 November 1997
  • State v. Richey, 2000 Ohio 1843, 2000 Ohio App. LEXIS 2245 (Ohio Ct. App., Putnam County 26 May 2000)

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