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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 18:58 GMT
Death row Richey's appeal setback
Kenny Richey
Kenny Richey was on death row for almost 18 years
The US Supreme Court has overturned a decision to quash the conviction of a Briton on death row for 18 years.

An appeals court in Ohio had set aside Kenny Richey's murder conviction earlier this year but prosecutors lodged an appeal against that ruling.

Richey, who was raised in Edinburgh, has been on death row since 1987 for murdering a child in an arson attack.

The Supreme Court ruling sends the case back to the appeal court for further review of Richey's case.

Ineffective assistance

The 6th Circuit Appeals Court had found that Richey received incompetent legal help and that there was no proof he intended to kill the girl.

Prosecutors said Richey set the fire to get even with his former girlfriend who lived in the same apartment.

The fire, on 30 June, 1986, killed two-year-old Cynthia Collins.

The Supreme Court said the 6th Circuit Appeals Court had misinterpreted state law in ruling in Richey's favour.

The ruling called for further review of one of Richey's claims concerning ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

It said that the 6th Circuit erred in its analysis of the issue, but determined there were additional arguments it should consider.

Richey's lawyer, Kenneth Parsigian, said the Supreme Court decision was not the end of the story.

I find it hard to believe that anyone looking objectively at the facts surrounding Kenny's case can conclude that he is a guilty man
Alistair Carmichael
Lib Dem MP

He said: "I spoke to Kenny this morning and he is extremely frustrated and disappointed.

"He's been in jail for 20 years for a crime he didn't commit and to hear that he has to wait another year and a half to get to a final answer from the courts can only be frustrating."

Mr Richey's wife, Karen Torley, who married him while he was in jail, said all the evidence pointed to his innocence and moves to keep him on death row were politically motivated.

She said: "Kenny's case has not been examined in many courts. The 6th Circuit Court of Federal Appeals was the first court that really looked at it in all those years.

"They saw there was something not right. The scientific evidence they see was not right and that was why they ordered the retrial."

Fresh evidence

Richey was born in Germany to an American father and Scottish mother and was brought up in Edinburgh.

He moved to the US in the early 1980s when his parents divorced.

Amnesty International Scotland said it was "extremely disappointed" with the Supreme Court decision.

Project Director Rosemary Burnett said: "Many aspects of Mr Richey's case, including a poor-quality original trial and a legal process making it virtually impossible to admit fresh evidence, show exactly why the death sentence should never be imposed in the first place."

Clive Stafford-Smith, the legal director of anti-death penalty group Reprieve, said: "The Supreme Court is using obscure technicalities to keep an innocent man on death row."

He said that support from the UK Government for Richey was crucial.

The Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, has led the campaign over Richey in parliament.

He said: "I find it hard to believe that anyone looking objectively at the facts surrounding Kenny's case can conclude that he is a guilty man.

"It is important that in the weeks ahead the British Government does all it can to assist Kenny. They have shown a willingness to act in the past and their active involvement must be maintained."

See reaction from his lawyer

Death row Briton awaits decision
17 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Richey must remain on death row
28 Jul 05 |  Scotland
New move in US death row appeal
15 Jul 05 |  Scotland
Retrial for Briton on death row
30 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Kenny Richey: Serving time
30 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Lawyer's release hopes for Richey
19 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Death row Scot has ruling upheld
18 Apr 05 |  Scotland

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