July 30, 2014

Elyria
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test

British citizen to be retried in 1986 murder case

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Prosecutors plan to retry a U.S.-British citizen whose 1986 death sentence was tossed out by a federal appeals court two weeks ago, his lawyer said.

The state decided against appealing the decision in the Kenneth Richey case to the U.S. Supreme Court and instead will retry him, said attorney Daryl Wiesen.

Richey, now 43, was convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to die for setting the 1986 fire that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in an apartment building in Columbus Grove in northwest Ohio.

Richey, who has dual citizenship, came within an hour of being executed 13 years ago. Now he has another chance to win his freedom.

The appeals court had given the state 90 days to move ahead with a new trial or release Richey.

“I hope they realize that even a retrial is a mistake, and they’ll admit their mistakes and release Kenny,” Wiesen said, adding that he is prepared for trial and won’t ask for any delays.

“Our view is any extra day Kenny spends in prison is one day too long,” Wiesen said.

Leo Jennings, a spokesman for Attorney General Marc Dann, confirmed the decision to retry the case. Dann will have no comment until he has had a chance to discuss the case in more detail with the prosecutor in Putnam County, Jennings said.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had been ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its 2005 ruling in favor of Richey, found again this month that Richey received ineffective counsel in his murder trial.

The court said expert testimony could have contended that the fire wasn’t intentionally set but caused by something else, such as a cigarette left smoldering.

Prosecutors said Richey set the blaze to get even with his former girlfriend, who lived in the same apartment building as the girl who died and who had a new boyfriend. They escaped the fire.

His lawyers have said that evidence casts doubts about Richey’s role and whether the fatal fire was intentionally set.

Richey has maintained his innocence and drawn support from members of the British Parliament and the late Pope John Paul II.

He grew up in Scotland and became a British citizen while in prison. He came to live with his American-born father in the early 1980s.

Richey’s supporters say there were numerous inconsistencies in the case against him. Two filmmakers produced documentaries questioning whether authorities thoroughly investigated the fire.

They cited, among other things, that Richey’s hand was in a cast yet prosecutors said he climbed a tool shed and a balcony while carrying cans filled with the fuel for the fire.