Kenny Richey Case: death row Scot to be freed on Monday

Campaigners for Kenny Richey, a Scottish man who has spent more than 20 years on death row in Ohio, are preparing to celebrate his release on Monday.

Mr Richey had been preparing to mount a defence in a forthcoming retrial following a federal court decision in August that his 1987 capital conviction was unsound and should be overturned. Instead, it was announced last month that a deal had been struck that would allow the Edinburgh man to be released after a brief court hearing at which he would plead “no contest”. That hearing, on 20 December, had to be postponed when Mr Richey was taken ill just hours before he was expected to walk free and return to Edinburgh in time for Christmas. The hearing has been rescheduled for Monday (at 6pm, UK time).

Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has always protested his innocence.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We’re delighted for Kenny and his family and supporters that freedom is now so close. It has been too long coming.

“The death penalty is always a human rights outrage, achieving nothing but suffering and injustice, and in this case Kenny suffered from particularly shoddy justice.

“Kenny Richey’s 20-year ordeal came after a flawed trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system. He now joins the ranks of those released from American death row prisons when they should never have been there in the first place.

“We were all concerned when Kenny was taken ill just before Christmas. Going forward, he should get all the support he needs to help him to rebuild his life.”

Mr Richey, who has a Scottish mother and grew up in Edinburgh, is also the subject of a longstanding campaign from a Scottish anti-death penalty campaigner, Karen Torley. Ms Torley said:

“It’s been an incredibly long fight for justice but we’re finally seeing some semblance of that.

“It was always a disgrace that the Ohio justice system found Kenny guilty in the way it did - and totally shocking that they put him on death row then fought tooth and nail to keep him there.

“I always had full confidence in Kenny’s innocence and the Ohio authorities have effectively accepted that they never had a case in the first place.

“Along with his family I’ll be planning a ‘welcome home to Scotland’ party for Kenny. He has a lot of life to catch up on.”

For several years Amnesty International has been urging the Ohio state authorities to allow Kenny Richey the opportunity to have fresh evidence heard. It has also repeatedly asked the UK government to maintain pressure on the US authorities in line with the government’s policy of opposing the death penalty in all instances. In 2004 the government confirmed that it has a “comprehensive lobbying strategy” over Richey’s case.

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