A Scottish man who spent 20 years on Ohio’s death row has been freed following a new plea.
Kenny Richey was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for setting a fire that led to the death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins.
He has always claimed to be innocent, and his conviction was overturned in August.
The case was often delayed by Richey’s health problems. The 43-year-old has suffered multiple heart attacks.
On Monday, he was released after he pleaded no contest to charges of attempted involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment and breaking and entering, and was sentenced to time served.
He was told not to return to Putnam County, Ohio, and by some accounts was told to leave the country.
He was expected to head home to Edinburgh almost immediately.
After leaving the courtroom, he again protested his innocence to reporters.
At the hearing on Monday, Cynthia Collins’ aunt, Valerie Binkley, broke down as she was trying to read a statement against Richey.
“How do you put into words what a 2-year-old … means?” she said, according to the BBC. “I want you to know you fooled no one. … You will burn in hell.”
The trial has long fascinated the United Kingdom, where the death penalty does not exist and where Richey’s ex-fiancee was a vocal advocate for his release.
The Daily Mail reported that Richey once came within an hour of his execution before courts intervened.
Scotland on Sunday reported Dec. 23 that Richey’s 22-year-old son was arrested when he tried to visit his father.
Sean Richey, a resident of Minnesota, was arrested in Putnam County, Ohio, on an outstanding warrant relating to allegations of assault.
Because his court hearing would not be held until later in January, the younger Richey would not get to see his father before he returned to Scotland.
“Richey freed after court hearing”
BBC.com, January 7, 2008
“Brit who has spent two decades on death row is freed after missing execution by an hour”
Daily Mail, January 7, 2008
“Richey’s son is arrested in the US”
Scotland on Sunday, December 23, 2007