Kenny Richey case: New appeal victory hailed as opportunity to clear name

Amnesty International UK and other anti-death penalty campaigners have welcomed the decision of a court in the USA to overturn - for a second time - the conviction of Kenny Richey, a Scottish man on death row in Ohio. The organisation is now calling for Mr Richey to be allowed a proper re-trial or be released as soon as possible.

Earlier today the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in Cincinnati ruled that Mr Richey’s death sentence has been overturned. The state of Ohio may now release Mr Richey or re-try his case within 90 days. A similar decision was made in 2005 but was later challenged and set aside.

The appeal was one of the last available appeals open to Richey. Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio in 1986 and sentenced to death on 27 January 1987. He has been on death row since then - over 20 years - but has always protested his innocence.

Evidence has since emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey’s guilt.

Amnesty International Scotland Director John Watson said:

“This is fantastic news and represents the opportunity that Kenny’s long fought for - the chance to clear his name in a proper trial.

“Nobody should be sent to the living hell of death row but Kenny Richey’s 20-year ordeal came after a flawed trial and serious concerns about the Ohio justice system.

“On the one had it is disturbing that it has taken this long for Ohio to look again at Kenny’s case - but now at least Kenny may be on the road to release.”

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:

“I am absolutely delighted at today’s news - it’s been a long, long time coming.

“We’re now hoping that he does get a re-trial, so that Kenny actually has the chance to clear his name.

“I have always had full confidence in the fact that Kenny is absolutely innocent - and Kenny is now one vital step closer to proving that to the world.”

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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