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Death row conviction overturned
Death row conviction overturned Kenny Richey

Kenny Richey has been on death row for more than 20 years
Kenny Richey Video
Death row Scot Kenny Richey has had his conviction overturned on appeal for the second time by a US court.

Richey, 43, was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago after being convicted of deliberately starting a fire in Ohio in which a two-year-old girl died.

The grounds of appeal were that Richey, originally from Edinburgh, received inadequate legal representation during his trial in 1987.

The court ordered that Richey should be retried or released within 90 days.

Deputy Solicitor General at the Ohio Attorney General's Office, Den Mizer, told BBC Scotland that they would take time to assess their options.

He said that no decisions had yet been made on what is "a difficult and complicated case".

On the question of whether they would approve a retrial of Richey, he said any decision on that issue would be taken after consulting with local prosecutors.

The latest appeal was decided by the United States Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit, the second highest court that can hear the case.

On the one hand 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
John Watson Amnesty International Scotland
In January 2005, the same court overturned Richey's conviction and announced that he should be retried or released.

However, the prosecution appealed.

The US Supreme Court held that the decision to overturn his conviction may not have been procedurally correct and so asked the Court of Appeals of the Sixth Circuit to reconsider.

This was in November 2005 and Richey has remained on death row until Friday's decision.

Richey has always denied murdering his former girlfriend's two-year-old daughter, Cynthia Collins.

He was found guilty of starting a fire at the toddler's mother's apartment in the town of Columbus Grove in 1986.

The appeal was one of the last available channels open to Richey.


Cynthia Collins Two-year-old Cynthia Collins died in the fire
His lawyer Ken Parsigian said: "Kenny is happy, but he is cautious.

"It is a giant leap, over a giant hurdle but we are not at the finish line yet."

If the state decides to retry Richey, Mr Parsigian said he would be applying for bail.

However, a similar decision was made by the same court in 2005 but it was later challenged and set aside and Richey remained on death row.

John Watson, director of Amnesty International Scotland, 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 hand 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."

'Absolutely innocent'

Richey is also the subject of a long-standing campaign by Scottish anti-death penalty campaigner, Karen Torley.

She 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 retrial, so that Kenny actually has the chance to clear his name.


Karen Torley Karen Torley has been campaigning for Richey's release
"I have always had full confidence in the fact that Kenny is absolutely innocent - and now Kenny's 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.

In 2004, the UK Government confirmed it had a "comprehensive lobbying strategy" over Richey's case.

The case has attracted appeals on Richey's behalf from Pope John Paul II and the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a resolution passed in June 1992, the European Parliament expressed its doubt concerning the validity of the sentence.



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