UK/USA: Kenny Richey case disappointment at Supreme Court decision

Mr Richey was convicted of arson and murder in the state of Ohio in 1986 and sentenced to death in January 1987. He has been on death row for almost 19 years but has always protested his innocence. Since his conviction evidence has emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey’s guilt.

The 6th Circuit Court found that Richey had received incompetent defence counsel and that there was no evidence to link him with the death of the girl. The Court demanded that the state of Ohio either release Richey or re-try his case within 90 days.

This decision means that they will have to reconsider this at a fresh hearing. Amnesty International is calling for this to happen as soon as possible.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This is very disappointing news and a blow for all the campaigners on Kenny's behalf who have simply wanted Kenny to get the chance to undo the damage done by a shockingly poor-quality original trial.

“However, we will continue to press for justice for Kenny, including by representations to the UK and US governments.”

Clive Stafford-Smith, the leading British-born US death penalty lawyer and Legal Director of Reprieve who has campaigned on behalf of Kenny Richey for 15 years, said:

“This is very bad news. The Supreme Court is using obscure technicalities to keep an innocent man on death row. Support from the British Government for Kenny is crucial now that his case is in the Supreme Court, if his rights are to be honoured.

"His original trial was a travesty of justice where an innocent man was sentenced to death thanks to the incompetence of his court appointed lawyer.”

Mr Richey, who has a Scottish mother and grew up in Edinburgh, is also the subject of a longstanding campaign from a Scottish woman, Karen Torley.

For several years Amnesty International, Reprieve and others have been urging the Ohio state authorities to allow Kenny Richey the opportunity to have fresh evidence heard.

Campaigners have also been pressing the UK government to keep up pressure on the US authorities in line with the government’s policy of opposing the death penalty in all instances.

Last year the government confirmed that it has a “comprehensive lobbying strategy” over Richey’s case.

The Lib-Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael has led the campaign over Kenny Richey in Parliament. Mr Carmichael has asked numerous parliamentary questions about the Richey case and personally visited Mr Richey in February 2004.

Mr Carmichael said:

“I am very surprised by (this) decision. I find it hard to believe that anyone looking objectively at the facts surrounding Kenny’s case can conclude that he is a guilty man. “It is important that in the weeks ahead the British Government does all it can to assist Kenny. They have shown a willingness to act in the past and their active involvement must be maintained.”

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