OTTAWA, Ohio -- Kenneth Richey returned Wednesday to the same Putnam County courtroom where he was convicted and sentenced to death nearly 25 years ago.
This time, Richey, 47, appeared in Common Pleas Court for arraignment on felony charges of retaliation and violating a civil protection order.
He is accused of leaving a threatening message on a courthouse phone on New Year's Eve to Judge Randall Basinger, who was an assistant county prosecutor in 1987 when Richey was convicted of setting a fire that killed a 2-year-old girl.
County Prosecutor Gary Lammers said after the arraignment that the voice message left on the office phone of the county Clerk of Courts and directed at Judge Basinger said: "I am in Ohio. I'm coming to get you."
Conviction of retaliation and violating a civil protection order carry five-year prison sentences on each offense. However, Mr. Lammers said new sentencing guidelines set by the legislature likely would result in a maximum punishment of six years if convicted.
Gregory Meyers, a public defender, entered pleas of not guilty to both of the counts on Richey's behalf. Wearing an orange jail smock and sitting with his hands on his lap, the Scottish-born Richey did not speak during the 10-minute arraignment.
Retired Franklin County Judge Dale Crawford set a trial date on the two charges for May 7. Judge Crawford was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to handle the case after Judge Basinger recused himself.
Judge Basinger was not in the courtroom for the arraignment.
Richey, now of Tupelo, Miss., spent 21 years in prison -- most of those on death row -- for an apartment fire in Columbus Grove that killed Cynthia Collins. A federal appeals court ruled in 2007 that Richey's lawyers mishandled his case and ordered that he get a new trial.
Richey was released from prison in 2007 after pleading no contest earlier to attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, and breaking and entering.
The convictions stem from Richey leaving the toddler alone in the apartment when he was supposed to be watching her.
After being freed from prison, he returned to his native Scotland and later returned to the United States. He lived for a time near Brainerd, Minn., where he was convicted in 2011 of misdemeanor domestic abuse.
At Wednesday's arraignment, Assistant county Prosecutor Todd Schroeder asked Judge Crawford for a $250,000 bond, an amount that the prosecutor said was needed because Richey lives outside Ohio, has no ties to the community, and possesses dual citizenship in Scotland and the United States. Mr. Schroeder also cited the defendant's criminal history since he left Ohio, including the domestic abuse conviction in Minnesota for which he was placed on probation for one year, as well as warrants out of that state on outstanding charges.
Judge Crawford ordered Richey held in the county jail without bond. He added that if given the opportunity to set bond, he would be inclined to have it above $250,000 with conditions that he surrender his passports to the court.
Richey was arrested last week in Tupelo. He was brought to Putnam County Tuesday after he agreed to waive extradition.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199