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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2007

State plans to retry Richey for 1986 death

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU
Richey Richey
AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS The Ohio attorney general s office said yesterday the state will retry U.S.-British citizen Kenny Richey in the 1986 death of a 2-year-old Columbus Grove girl and will not appeal a court decision overturning his conviction a second time.

But they hadn t gotten Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers on board with that decision before confirming it with reporters on both sides of the Atlantic. He said he still wants a meeting with the attorney general s staff and a chance to talk with members of the victim s family before a final decision is made. Ultimately, it would fall to his office to retry the 43-year-old Scot, although the attorney general s office has offered him its services as special counsel.

We re dealing with a new guard in Columbus as opposed to who we have been dealing with, Mr. Lammers said. It s an all new group down there, and I want to make sure we all have the facts and details.

Brian Laliberte, chief of the attorney general s criminal division, said a late Friday brainstorming session led the office to conclude the U.S. Supreme Court was unlikely to agree to hear a second appeal.

The state has maintained that a jealous Richey set the fire to kill his Columbus Grove ex-girlfriend and her lover but killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins in an upstairs apartment instead. Richey, who was baby-sitting the girl at the time, said he was intoxicated that night and could not remember what happened. But he has denied setting the fire.

Mr. Laliberte said he expects Richey, 43, to be transferred from death row to the county jail to await retrial. He said the state, however, will oppose his release on bond in the meantime.

Mr. Richey was convicted once, he said. We realize the 6th Circuit ruled that his counsel was inadequate, but Mr. Richey has been proven a dangerous individual. He s got some ability to flee. He has become a cause celebre for some folks who might help him flee jurisdiction.

Richey, the son of a Scottish woman and an American serviceman, has spent 21 years in prison as his case bounced between courts. He turned down a plea deal that would have released him after 11 years.

It s entirely appropriate not to appeal, said Paul Nemser, one of Richey s Boston attorneys. The 6th Circuit reached an appropriate resolution. There s nothing left to be considered by the Supreme Court.

Absent an appeal, Mr. Lammers said, My initial inclination is to retry it. I am of the opinion that we re going to do something with the case. I m not going to ignore it and let it be done.

Mr. Nemser said he disagrees with the state s contention that it simply has to progress toward retrial, not necessarily start or complete the new trial within the 90-day period. U.S. District Court in Toledo has yet to issue a formal order starting the 90-day clock in line with the 6th Circuit ruling.

Karen Torley, Richey s friend from Glasgow, Scotland, and head of an Internet campaign supporting him, said Richey would not be a flight risk: He s waited too long to have his day in court. He s not going to run away or anything like that. He s got family [in Minnesota]. He s waited 19 years to see his son.

Contact Jim Provance at:jprovance@theblade.com,or 614-221-0496.



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