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USA: Kenny Richey case – disappointment at further delay

Ohio’s Attorney General Jim Petro yesterday filed papers in an attempt to re-hear Kenny Richey’s appeal, despite the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last month declaring that his conviction should be overturned. One of the reasons cited was the “incompetent” work by Mr Richey’s lawyer at his original trial.

The successful appeal, which had been one of the last available appeals open to Richey, came only two days before the day that saw the Scotsman reaching his 18th full year on death row.

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, but has always protested his innocence.

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

Amnesty International Campaigns Coordinator Sara Mac Neice said:

“News that Ohio is seeking to prolong Kenny Richey’s time on death row is extremely disappointing after a court had determined that his conviction should be overturned.

“Kenny has already endured 18 years on death row fighting to clear his name after a flawed trial.

“The Ohio justice system has already failed Kenny and rather than prolonging his suffering it should abide by the view of its senior court and set about releasing this man as soon as possible.”

Clive Stafford-Smith, the leading British-born US death penalty lawyer and founder of UK anti-death penalty organisation Reprieve, said:

“This delay means that Kenny will spend even longer in prison for a crime he did not commit.

“Kenny has had to deal with so much throughout this case and sadly it appears that the prosecutors wish to prolong this for him even longer.”

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

It has 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 case has attracted appeals on Mr Richey’s behalf from Pope John Paul II, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and US actress and anti-death penalty campaigner Susan Sarandon. In a resolution passed in June 1992, the European Parliament expressed its doubt concerning the validity of the sentence.

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