[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 28 10:18:07 CST 2005
Supreme Court throws out Ohio death case ruling
The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a decision that erased the
conviction and death sentence of a U.S.-British citizen in a fatal fire.
Justices directed an appeals court to reconsider whether Kenneth Richey
was wrongly convicted of the blaze in Ohio that killed a toddler nearly 20
years ago. The case has gotten international attention.
The high court, in a 6-page ruling, said the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals wrongly ruled in Richey's favor. The lower court had found that
Richey received incompetent legal help and that there was no proof he
intended to kill the girl.
Prosecutors contend that Richey set the blaze to get even with his former
girlfriend, who lived in the same apartment and had a new boyfriend
sleeping over. The fire on June 30, 1986, killed 2-year-old Cynthia
A divided panel of the 6th Circuit described sloppy police work and raised
questions about whether the fire was even arson. Richey was outside the
apartment in the northwest Ohio town of Columbus Grove and risked his life
to save the 2-year-old, whose nickname was Scootie, the court said.
A documentary had raised inconsistencies in the case, prompting a campaign
for Richey's release. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter backing his cause,
and 150 members of the British Parliament signed a motion backing Richey's
claim of innocence after Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to look into
Ohio's Supreme Court lawyer, Douglas Cole, told justices the case was
about "federal courts' authority under (the law) to undo state criminal
convictions." He said the case was important because courts deal with tens
of thousands of appeals every year.
Richey's lawyer, Kenneth Parsigian, said that investigators first said
that the fire was caused by a faulty fan, and allowed the apartment
manager to gut the building, with carpet and other potential evidence
being hauled to the county landfill.
The appeals court had found that Richey's lawyers at trial hired an
unqualified forensic expert to investigate the fire and did not adequately
challenge the state's handling of the investigation.
Richey grew up in Scotland and became a British citizen while in prison.
He had moved to Ohio in the early 1980s to live with his American-born
father. Richey held dual U.S. and British citizenship.
The case is Bradshaw v. Richey, 05-101.
(source: Associated Press)
More information about the DeathPenalty