USA: Kenny Richey case – News that successful appeal not set aside welcomed

Mr Richey won an appeal against his sentence in January this year. The successful appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned Richey’s conviction for arson and murder in the state of Ohio in 1986. One of the reasons cited was the “incompetent” work by Mr Richey’s lawyer at his original trial.

Today’s decision by the same court means that Mr Richey must now be set free by the state of Ohio unless the state attempt to mount a re-trial of the entire case. The 25 January appeal ruling specified that Ohio needed to release Richey or re-try his case within 90 days. Today’s decision will start the 90-day ‘re-trial or release’ period for Mr Richey unless the state of Ohio files a fresh petition in the US Supreme Court.

Mr Richey, who was originally sentenced to death in 1987 and has now been on death row for 18 years, has always protested his innocence and evidence has since emerged casting serious doubt on Mr Richey’s guilt.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We are pleased and relieved that Ohio will not be able to have Kenny Richey’s appeal re-heard.

“Kenny has endured 18 years on death row fighting to clear his name after a flawed trial - it is surely time for Ohio to accept the view of its senior court and set about releasing this man immediately.”

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

“This is excellent news for Kenny. Now the prosecution must decide whether or not to retry him.

“I am confident that if they take the time to sit down and objectively review all the evidence they will come to the conclusion that Kenny is innocent and end the case.”

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. Ms Torley, now engaged to Kenny, said:

“I am pleased that the court has denied Ohio’s request to have another hearing. This injustice has gone on long enough. It is time to set Kenny free and let him live with his family.”

For several years Amnesty International and Reprieve have 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 the late 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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